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Raptors sending Anunoby, Achiuwa to Knicks for package including RJ Barrett: reports

The Toronto Raptors are acquiring Canadian RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley from the New York Knicks in exchange for OG Anunoby, a person with knowledge of the deal said Saturday. 

The Knicks also will acquire Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn, the person told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the trade is not yet official.

The trade was first reported by ESPN.

The Knicks are giving up two of their top offensive players in Barrett, a starting forward from Mississauga, Ont., and Quickley, one of the NBA’s top reserves. But the deal should provide a needed boost to their defence, with Anunoby leading the league in steals last season.

A Raptors spokesperson declined to comment on the reported trade. A text-message left with Barrett was not immediately returned.

The deal left both teams short-handed for their games Saturday night. The Raptors were in Detroit, where the Pistons were trying to avoid an NBA-record 29th consecutive loss, while the Knicks were in Indiana.

Toronto (12-19) entered play Saturday tied for 11th place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings. The Knicks were in seventh place at 17-14.

Anunoby, considered one of the best defenders in the NBA, figures to step right into Barrett’s spot in the Knicks’ starting lineup.

The 6-foot-7 swingman is averaging 15.1 points and had his highest-scoring game of the season when the Raptors visited the Knicks on Dec. 11, scoring 29 points.

The 26-year-old Anunoby was selected by the club in 2017 as the 23rd overall pick, going on to make the All-Defensive second team in 2023.

He helped the Raptors to a No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference during the 2019 playoffs but did not play in the postseason after an emergency appendectomy as Toronto won its only championship.

A basketball player is seen dribbling with the ball as he's pressured by an opposition player to his right/
RJ Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., right, was one of the anchors for a Canadian team that won a bronze medal by defeating the U.S. at the FIBA World Cup in September. (Michael Conroy/The Associated Press)

Barrett averages 18.2 points but has struggled lately with his outside shot, going 2 for 12 from 3-point range over the last two games. The No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft helped the Knicks reach the playoffs twice in the last three seasons after missing them the previous seven.

Barrett was also one of the anchors for a Canadian team that won a bronze medal at the FIBA World Cup in September. It was the first-ever World Cup medal for Canada, which also earned a berth at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 23-year-old was selected third overall in the 2019 NBA draft by New York, and is the son of Rowan Barrett, the GM of the Canadian national basketball team.

3-point shooting boost

Quickley was the runner-up for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season, but there has been speculation he could be moved since the Knicks declined to give him a contract extension before this season.

They will have to replace his 15 points per game off the bench and ability to play both guard positions.

Quickley should also provide a boost to the Raptors’ three-point shooting. He’s averaging 39.5 per cent on three-pointers and has season averages of 15 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

Achiuwa and Flynn have come off the bench for Toronto this season. Achiuwa has averaged 7.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game while Flynn has averaged 5.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

The deal comes four months after the Knicks filed a lawsuit against the Raptors, alleging they had conspired to steal thousands of videos and other scouting secrets after hiring a former Knicks scouting employee.

In October, the Raptors’ owners, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), filed a motion in New York’s Southern District for the lawsuit to be dismissed. MLSE filed the legal documents on behalf of the NBA club, head coach Darko Rajakovic and 12 other individual defendants.

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