Three OG Anunoby Trade Destinations
OG Anunoby is the hottest name on the NBA trade market leading into the February 9 deadline next Thursday. Why? Anunoby is exactly the type of player every contender dreams of having-- a big, strong, physical wing who can defend at an elite level and shoot the ball well. Anunoby's defense on the perimeter is elite and he's shooting 36 percent from deep on 5.2 attempts per game. He can't do much else, admittedly, given his extremely pedestrian rebounding and assist numbers but that doesn't matter. He is a prototypical three-and-D player who is only 25 years-old. That is the most valuable non-superstar asset in the NBA.
Why would the Toronto Raptors want to trade him, then? It's fairly simple-- the team is not contending for a championship as is and currently sit at 23-29, good for 12th in the Eastern Conference. Anunoby is not good enough to turn their season around but can fetch a much higher return than any other of the roster's difference-makers due to his age and the fact that he's under contract for a reasonable price over the next year and a half (with a player option for 2024-25).
He will not come cheap, though. The Raptors hold all the cards and will squeeze any potential trade partner for every asset they've got. A team convinced they have a shot this year may just be desperate enough to give up what Toronto wants-- which would be at least two unprotected first-round picks and probably including a young player on top of that.
Here are three realistic trade destinations for Anunoby as the deadline approaches.
The Suns have a three-and-D forward of their own that they've been trying to ditch the whole season, which makes them a natural trade partner. To be clear, Jae Crowder is a much worse player than Anunoby, but his $10 million contract is quite helpful in matching salary. Since the Suns' picks do not project to fall very high already and will be even lower with Anunoby, the Raptors will want quantity. Crowder and three first-round picks would probably be the starting point for the discussion. If I'm the Raptors I'd try to land Cam Johnson, too. But Phoenix will be loathe to give him up seeing as he's a deadeye shooter and has shown the ability to at least hold his own defensively against most matchups.
A likely package would be Crowder, Johnson, and two first-round picks. The Raptors get draft capital and two useful players to flip for even more draft capital should they so desire. The Suns get Anunoby to make an incredibly dangerous starting five that can go toe-to-toe with the best the West has to offer. Toronto might hold out in hopes they can get a worse team to give up an equal package for Anunoby but if they want him gone by the deadline this feels right.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are an intriguing and rather frightening landing spot for Anunoby. They have draft capital to waste thanks to the Anthony Davis trade continuing to pay dividends as well as a couple of young talents that could benefit from a change in scenery. They have a budding young roster that appears to be on the cusp of figuring it out if everyone stays healthy. And they have a need for experienced perimeter defenders who can mesh with all kinds of weird lineups that Willie Green can cook up around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
A trade package would likely consist of at least one Lakers pick (either this year's pick swap or next year's selection) and perhaps the 2027 Milwaukee first-rounder along with New Orleans' first rounder this year. Then the Pelicans would have to throw in a combination of players like Jaxson Hayes, Dyson Daniels, Kira Lewis, and Garrett Temple to make the salaries work. It would be tough to ditch Daniels this early in his career after he's shown tremendous signs of potential as a rookie but Anunoby is basically the finished product of what Daniels could be and is still only 25 years-old. The terms could change if the Raptors are willing to build a package around Jonas Valančiūnas' $10 million salary, but the ratio of picks to young talent would remain roughly the same.
Oklahoma City Thunder
If we are being totally honest the Raptors probably are not going to move Anunoby unless Masai Ujiri gets blown away with an offer he feels he cannot refuse. There is nobody in the NBA better positioned to give such an offer than Sam Presti and the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have a truly comical amount of draft picks over the next six years, owning all their own selections along with a jumble of top-four protected Houston Rockets picks and unprotected Los Angeles Clippers picks. And, for the first time in years, they are in a position where flipping those picks to acquire proven talent in the pursuit of winning games makes all the sense in the world.
The tricky part is matching salary. Let's assume the Raptors get their pick of the litter in terms of draft capital. OKC would then need to cobble together enough money to equal Anunoby's $17 million salary this year. They'd realistically only be able to do that by trading Lu Dort, who will make $15 million this season. Everybody else is either a very recent first-round draft pick or makes so little money it doesn't tip the scale. However, trading Dort would make this a lateral move for the Thunder as they send out one perimeter stopper for another.
If OKC can loop in a third team to help match salary then this deal gets done. Anunoby would be a tremendous fit going forward and it shouldn't be hard to sell him on staying long-term with things finally on the up-and-up. The money is a complicating factor but if Presti thinks this is the moment then they'll find a way to make it happen.