Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Knicks Star Declines Player Option, Enters Free Agency

OG Anunoby opted out of his contract and now enters free agency.

OG Anunoby the New York Knicks’ forward, has decided to decline his player option for the 2024-25 NBA season, opting instead to test the waters of unrestricted free agency, as reported by Fred Katz of The Athletic. This move positions Anunoby as one of the most captivating free agents available.

OG Anunoby Declines Player Option, Enters Free Agency

Insiders within the league had anticipated Anunoby’s decision to forego the player option on the final year of his four-year, $72 million contract, which he inked in December 2023 as a part of the Toronto Raptors. Anunoby was the 23rd pick in the 2017 NBA draft, and slowly developed into one of the best defensive wings in the league under Nick Nurse. He was acquired by the Knicks on December 30 this season, in a blockbuster trade that propelled the Knicks to a legitimate contender in the East.

OG Anunoby’s Impact on the Knicks

In the 23 regular season games Anunoby played for the Knicks, they went 20-3. Anunoby added an elite perimeter defender to one of the best interior defenses in the league. His addition helped the Knicks blossom from a good defense into a top-five caliber defense. Since January 1, the Knicks had the 3rd best defensive rating in the NBA (despite Anunoby missing 27 games). Anunoby had a defensive plus-minus of +3.1, in the 93rd percentile this season. Since he joined the Knicks, opponents shot just 41.5% from the field when he was the primary defender. That was the 2nd best mark among all players who played more than 20 games since Jan 1st.

Furthermore, he proved to be a difference-maker on offense too. The Knicks had the 8th-best offensive rating in the same period. While he is not a star on offense, Anunoby provided the Knicks with another shot creator, something they desperately needed after Julius Randle‘s injury. He gave the Knicks offense an elite 3-point shooter and another good offensive rebounder.

Free Agency

From the rumors that are out there, Anunoby is expected to get a contract worth around $40 million a year. NBA executives are willing to look past the injury history and fork out the money, particularly because he is so valuable when he is on the court. Many teams could be suitors for Anunoby this offseason. However, the Knicks must do everything they can in their power to resign him. They did not trade away key young pieces like RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley for a five-month rental.

Reports have already surfaced about Anunoby not liking what the Knicks offered him, but everyone knew that would happen. He has been injury-prone throughout his career, and the Knicks tried to get him to accept a lower offer. He didn’t and thus declined his player option. The good part for the Knicks is that they can negotiate a contract with him before free agency even starts. He could be locked up for the next couple of years before June 30th (the official start of free agency).

Potential Replacements

There is a scenario in which the Knicks are outbid for Anunoby by some other team, and they must keep that in mind as they head into this draft and free agency. So, here’s a list of potential replacements that could play the role Anunoby played.

Ryan Dunn (Draft)

Ryan Dunn is projected to be the best defender of the 2024 NBA draft class. He is a lockdown on the perimeter and in the interior and is currently projected to be picked in the mid-20s, exactly where the Knicks draft. Dunn doesn’t have the shooting touch that Anunoby had, but he has enough time to grow into becoming a good shooter in the NBA.

Caleb Martin (Free Agent)

Much like Anunoby, Caleb Martin just declined his player option for the upcoming season. Martin is one of the better 3-and-D wings in this league, and his time in Miami has shown us how good he can be. At his best, Martin is locking up his matchup on defense, while lighting it up from three on the other end. His performance against the Celtics in the 2023 ECF was a thing of beauty, and the Knicks should take a good look at him.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Free Agent)

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will get paid this offseason, but his asking price is nowhere that of Anunoby’s. He would command something in the $20 million-a-year range and will be much cheaper than OG. KCP is older than Anunoby but has proven himself to be a winner. He is a great defender and would add another catch-and-shoot specialist to the Knicks.

The Last Word

This is one of the most important offseasons in Knicks history, certainly the most important one in the 21st century. The Knicks have to be smart in how they go about this offseason, and they must keep the extensions of Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson at the back of their mind as they approach free agency.


More Posts