Jazz Urged to Target Knicks’ OG Anunoby.

Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge announced during his post-season press conference that he aims to upgrade the roster this offseason. Greg Swartz of The Bleacher Report suggests that if the New York Knicks don’t re-sign starting forward OG Anunoby, Utah should leverage its cap space to acquire the former first-round pick.

“With substantial cap space and numerous draft picks, the Utah Jazz are poised to make significant moves in free agency this summer,” Swartz wrote.

“If the Knicks can’t meet OG Anunoby’s salary demands, the Jazz should be prepared to make an offer. Anunoby’s impact on both ends of the floor is undeniable, as the Knicks were 23.9 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court, according to Cleaning the Glass.”

“Pairing Anunoby with Lauri Markkanen would create one of the NBA’s strongest frontcourts, particularly if Walker Kessler continues to develop at center.”

However, the Knicks are expected to do everything possible to keep Anunoby, given their 15-2 record with him versus 10-10 without him after his acquisition from the Toronto Raptors. Anunoby excels offensively but is especially valuable for his defensive prowess, which the Jazz sorely need after finishing last in the league in defensive rating last season. Nevertheless, several factors must align for Anunoby to join the Jazz.

It’s widely expected that Anunoby will opt out of his current contract in favor of a maximum deal. While the Jazz have the cap space to afford him, they face stiff competition and the challenge of being a small-market team still a few pieces away from contention. Additionally, if the Knicks don’t re-sign Anunoby, the Philadelphia 76ers are rumored to be strong contenders for his signature, with NBA insider Ian Begley of SNY TV suggesting Anunoby could command $35 million per year.

Signing Anunoby does come with risks. He missed the last five games of the Knicks’ playoff series against the Indiana Pacers due to a hamstring injury and has missed 47 games over the past two seasons. Pairing his injury history with Lauri Markkanen’s might be too risky for Utah.

Given these factors, any significant roster upgrade for the Jazz is more likely to come through a trade. Ainge is known for his willingness to make bold moves and will need to overpay to attract a free agent to Salt Lake City. Anunoby joining the Jazz seems a long shot and could cost more than the projected $35 million annually.

Jazz fans will soon find out what changes are in store, with free agent negotiations beginning on June 30 and the signing period starting on July 6.