After years of rumors and speculation, OG Anunoby has been traded by the Toronto Raptors to the New York Knicks, a move that could surprisingly open up an avenue to make a blockbuster trade for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The New York Knicks pulled off the first major trade of the 2023-24 NBA season by trading RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley for OG Anunoby. Both the Knicks and the Raptors have been atop the league's most anticipated trade partners - for varying reasons. The Knicks have a stockpile of young talent and first-round picks available for trade, leaving the possibility of a superstar acquisition on the table. For Toronto, their slide in success year-to-year has left fans waiting for a change in direction.
It was additionally reported from there how Malachi Flynn and Precious Achiuwa were involved in the deal, with the Flynn and Achiuwa element reported by Doug Smith of NBS.
Shockingly, this trade gives the public a trade from both teams in the directions expected, but it was not the blockbuster deal that anybody expected for either team. The Raptors had reportedly been offered three first-round picks for Anunoby in the past, only to decline the offer. By swapping Anunoby for RJ Barrett, Quickley and a second-round pick, the Raptors prioritized young but proven players to put around former Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.
The Knicks found a perfect complementary piece for their franchise star in Jalen Brunson. Anunoby has earned a reputation as one of the league's best wing defenders and is shooting above 40 percent from deep this season. His skillset is exactly what New York could add to their starting five. What they still have, though, is Evan Fournier's $18.8 million salary and over half a dozen first-round picks, a recipe for another potential move, an even bigger one, before the February 8 trade buzzer.
The Cavaliers could make a splash in the trade market following Anunoby's trade
The Raptors set a precedent in their intentions when dealing their best assets. They are not in the mindset of tearing everything down and rebuilding from the scraps. Rather, they want players who impact winning now and fit the Barnes timeline. Barrett is only 23 years old, and Quickley is 24 years old.
The Cavaliers have very little draft compensation to offer a team, but they have a wealth of young talent to offer Toronto in exchange for their remaining star player, Pascal Siakam. Making roughly $37 million in the last year of his deal, Siakam will be the top name in the 2024 free agency class. Adding him to the Cavs early gives Cleveland full Bird Rights to the NBA Champion big man.
If there is any team that meets Toronto's demands of young, proven talent to surround Barnes, it is the Cavaliers. A deal centered around Cleveland's Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okoro almost gets the Cavs to a matching salary, and the Cavs have their own stockpile of second-round picks to sweeten the deal.
With the goal for Toronto being to add young talent, Allen's recent dominance as the sole big man in Cleveland's lineup and Okoro's newly-found offensive leap would undoubtedly be an enticing offer for the veteran star Siakam. Other teams have more draft picks to throw at Toronto, but the Cavs' depth and youth could quickly make them frontrunners in the Siakam sweepstakes if they do not hesitate.
Cleveland's long-term future will have Evan Mobley at the center position, meaning Allen's fit on the team will eventually disappear. He is a talented big man who could impact a contending team, and his $20 million salary is still easy for another team to match. For Mobley, Siakam could prove to be the perfect frontcourt partner as a stretch four with championship experience and worthwhile defensive talent.
Over his career, Siakam has averaged 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists on 49/32/77 shooting splits with two All-Star appearances to his name. Siakam is by no means a worldwide superstar, but he would nevertheless make the Cavaliers far more competitive once the postseason comes around than they were last year.
As it stands, the Cavaliers have a lot of questions to answer over the coming months and years. Siakam could potentially be the answer to one of their most haunting questions. Additionally, a blockbuster deal for Siakam would be another point of emphasis to convince Donovan Mitchell to sign an extension and view Cleveland as his best long-term fit and chance for the coveted NBA Finals ring.
Last season, the Cavs stayed silent at the deadline to test their current depth in the playoffs. They fell short in the first round to the Knicks in only five games. If they are serious about making the push to contention, staying quiet two years in a row is a far cry from the type of commitment to Mitchell and Cleveland's core that is needed.
Siakam is only one possible name the Cavaliers could target, but he would undeniably be the biggest and best outcome for Cleveland this season. The Cavs have just under a month and a half until the trade deadline, and both Mobley and Darius Garland are still out for a good chunk of the season until then.