Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

OG Anunoby is coming back to the Knicks on a megadeal. 

The 3-and-D forward agreed to a five-year contract worth $212.5 million that includes a player option for the final season, according to ESPN.

Anunoby, 26, carried heavy leverage into the negotiations and clearly flexed it before agreeing to the biggest contract in franchise history. 

The total sum and average salaries destroyed the previous Knicks record, set by Carmelo Anthony and Julius Randle.

OG Anunoby is coming back to the Knicks Jason Szenes /New York Post

It also further muddies the path to re-signing Isaiah Hartenstein, who will hit unrestricted free agency Monday. 

If no other deals are completed, the Knicks would be hard-capped because of the pending Mikal Bridges trade and could only offer Hartenstein a deal well below his value.

It’s still possible to make a trade before free agency to free up space or alleviate the hard cap, but Hartenstein’s return obviously took a far backseat to Anunoby’s negotiations. 

The Knicks were operating from a disadvantaged position after trading two of their top young players — RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley — to acquire him from the Raptors in December.

OG Anunoby was acquired by the Knicks in a December trade. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Leon Rose couldn’t lose him for nothing.

So he kept Anunoby for more than $200 million. 

There were reported concerns, whether valid or posturing, of Anunoby leaving in free agency for the Sixers.

However, league sources stated for weeks that Anunoby’s re-signing was assured.

He is also represented by CAA, the agency closely associated with the Knicks. 

Still, Anunoby’s big contract only enhances the concerns about his extensive injury history.

He hasn’t reached 70 games since his rookie campaign in 2017-18.

He didn’t exceed 50 games in three of the last four seasons, missing 27 with the Knicks last season because of an elbow injury that required surgery.

Anunoby then strained his hamstring in the playoffs and sat most of the second round, which ended with the Knicks falling in seven games to the Pacers.

OG Anunoby got hurt in the second round of the playoffs. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

It’s unclear if there were any games-played stipulations baked into Anunoby’s agreement. 

Next season, Anunoby will join Bridges as probably the best defensive wing duo in the NBA — rivaled only by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with the Clippers.

It’s a strong defensive foundation to combat Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the current kings of the Eastern Conference — and the NBA. 

Barring another seismic trade before the season starts, the Knicks’ lineup will include Anunoby, Bridges, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle — a foursome built for championship contention. 

The center position is more complicated.

OG Anunoby provides the Knicks some strong defense. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Before the Bridges trade, the Knicks could have re-signed Hartenstein at a four-year, $72.5 million max.

But that’s off the table barring a massive restructuring, and Hartenstein is expected to garner a strong offer in free agency, with the OKC Thunder and Orlando Magic expressing interest.

That would leave Mitchell Robinson as the Knicks’ top center.

He’s among the NBA’s top offensive rebounders — if not the best — but has also been injury prone and is coming off two ankle surgeries. 

In August, Brunson is eligible for a max extension of four years, $156 million. 

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#Anunoby #sign #fiveyear #million #Knicks #contract

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