NBA exec says Knicks trade for O.G. Anunoby puts them above ‘chase pack’ of Heat, Cavs, others

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks acquired O.G. Anunoby in a trade with the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, and that addition could help them climb up the standings in the Eastern Conference.

One Eastern Conference executive thinks the move gives the Knicks a leg up on some other potential playoff teams in the conference like the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, among others.

“The Knicks rank eighth in offense but only 16th in defense, which makes them a middle-of-the-road team,” the executive said, via FOX Sports. “Adding O.G. should move them into the top 10, defensively, which should elevate their ceiling and give them a fighting chance against the top three teams in the East. That puts them above the chase pack of Miami, Cleveland, Orlando and Indiana. The Knicks didn’t have a starting caliber small forward or mobile power forward on their roster but they have plenty of other options at shooting guard — [Josh] Hart, [Donte] DiVincenzo and [Quentin] Grimes.”

The Orlando Magic, Heat, Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers are all currently ahead of the Knicks in the standings, but by narrow margins. So, things could change in a hurry. If Anunoby is able to have a major impact in New York right away, the Knicks could quickly shoot up the standings.

The Boston Celtics currently occupy the top spot in the East with a record of 25-6. The Milwaukee Bucks (24-8) sit second, followed by the Philadelphia 76ers (22-10). Many feel that those three teams have clearly established themselves as the best in the conference so far this season while all of the other teams are trying to keep pace with them.

With New York’s addition of Anunoby, the executive thinks that the Knicks have a “fighting” chance against those top three teams. New York also acquired Malachi Flynn and Precious Achiuwa from Toronto in the deal, while simultaneously sending out Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and draft capital.

As one of the better and most versatile perimeter defenders in the entire NBA, Anunoby figures to give the Knicks a big boost on the defensive end. He’s also a solid offensive option.

The deal between Toronto and New York could potentially be just the first of many that shake up the conference in the coming weeks. The trade deadline, which is set for Feb. 8, 2024, is still well over a month away. A whole lot can transpire in the league in that amount of time.

After seeing the Knicks bolster their roster, other teams hoping to make some noise could look to do the same. The Chicago Bulls have been frequently mentioned as a team that could trade some key contributors, and the Raptors also still have some other solid players they could look to move as part of a larger roster shake-up.

The next few weeks in the NBA could prove to be very exciting and eventful.

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Michael is an experienced writer and reporter who has been covering the NBA since before LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach. He wore No. 41 on his high school basketball team partly because of Glen Rice's days as a sharpshooter for the Heat, and he is still a proponent of the midrange game.