Saturday, July 20, 2024

OG Anunoby signs five-year, $212.5 million contract with Knicks

OG Anunoby is coming back to the Knicks in a megadeal.

The 3-and-D forward agreed to a five-year contract worth $212.5 million, which includes a player option for the final season, according to ESPN.

Anunoby, 26, had the most influence in the negotiations and was clearly swayed before agreeing to the largest contract in franchise history.

The total and average salary eclipsed the previous Knicks record set by Carmelo Anthony and Julius Randle.

OG Anunoby is coming back to the Knicks Jason Senes/New York Post

That further complicates the path to re-signing Isaiah Hardenstein, who hits unrestricted free agency on Monday.

If no other deals are completed, the Knicks will be heavily shut down due to the pending Mikal Bridges trade and will only be able to offer Hardenstein a contract below his value.

A trade before free agency to free up cap space or alleviate the hard cap is still possible, but Hardenstein’s return has taken a backseat to Anunoby’s negotiations.

The Knicks have been operating from an underdog position after trading two of their best young players, RJ Barrett and Emmanuel Quickle, to acquire him from the Raptors in December.

OG Anunoby was acquired by the Knicks in a December trade. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Leon Rose couldn’t lose him at all.

So he kept Anunoby at over $200 million.

Whether Anunoby’s exit in free agency for the Sixers was for real or posturing, concerns were expressed.

However, league sources have said for weeks that Anunoby is certain to re-sign.

He is represented by CAA, a company closely associated with Knicks.

However, Anunoby’s large contract only adds to concerns about his extensive injury history.

He hasn’t reached 70 games since his rookie campaign in 2017-18.

He hasn’t surpassed 50 games in three of the past four seasons, missing 27 games with the Knicks last season due to an elbow injury that required surgery.

Anunoby then strained his hamstring in the playoffs and sat out most of the second round, which ended with the Knicks falling to the Pacers in seven games.

OG Anunoby was injured in the second round of the playoffs. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

It’s unclear whether Anunoby’s contract includes any games played clause.

Next season, Anunoby will join Bridges as perhaps the best defensive duo in the NBA — rivaled only by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with the Clippers.

That’s a strong defensive foundation to contend with the current kings of the Eastern Conference, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and the NBA.

Barring another seismic trade before the start of the season, the Knicks’ lineup includes Anunoby, Bridges, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle — a quartet built for championship contention.

The central position is more complex.

OG Anunoby provides some solid defense for the Knicks. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Before the Bridges trade, the Knicks could have re-signed Hardenstein for four years at the max of $72.5 million.

But that’s off the table barring a major overhaul, and Hardenstein is expected to receive a strong offer in free agency, with the OKC Thunder and Orlando Magic expressing interest.

That would leave Mitchell Robinson as the Knicks’ best center.

He’s one of the NBA’s best offensive rebounders — if not the best — but is injury-prone and coming off two ankle surgeries.

In August, Brunson became eligible for a maximum extension of four years, worth $156 million.

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