OG Anunoby and the Raptors douse the rumour mill fire

Everyone finally talked about it, so let's recap.

OG was surprised, Pascal was oblivious, and Damian Lillard was left wanting. Everyone finally talked about it, to some degree anyway, so let’s recap.

On May 31st, Jake Fischer releases an article called: “Latest NBA Offseason Intel: Does OG Anunoby Want out of Toronto?”. A headline he didn’t choose, but the content of that piece indicated that other teams were lurking around Anunoby and trying to pluck him free of the Raptors. Other front offices suggested that Anunoby was unhappy with his role, but Fischer’s sources indicated that Anunoby had not directly expressed discontent with the Raptors.

Okay, that’s pretty easy to figure out right? Nick Nurse commented openly about the need to get Anunoby the ball more during the season, he ended up leading the Raptors in post touches, points, and assists – a sure fire way to get someone a touch – and we also saw Anunoby’s role shrink somewhat with Pascal Siakam’s All-NBA ascension along with Scottie Barnes’ rise to Rookie of the Year. It is absolutely believable that Anunoby would express that he wants more possessions, and a bigger role. I believe that part of the reporting. I also believe that other teams were trying to poach him. None of that, however, dictates that Anunoby leave the team, nor does it come anywhere close to a trade request. Which, in these days, are typically quite public from stars all the way to role players – think of Kevin Durant and Jae Crowder.

Here was my takeaway at the time:

In the middle of September, Damian Lillard was quoted, saying he wanted to play with OG: “If I had to say a player right now that I would want to add to our team, I would say somebody like Mikal Bridges or OG Anunoby or Jarred Vanderbilt. Somebody like that. One of those three. I love those three guys.” So, considering that the Blazers were firmly entrenched in the rumours, that bow ties itself up quite nicely.

Fischer doubled down on his reporting to some degree on a podcast with Nate Duncan, stating the following: “I’ve been hearing since March that OG Anunoby has been dissatisfied with his role in Toronto. I mean, there’s a lot of guys who are dissatisfied with their roles in Toronto, and I can understand why people could be seeing this as blowing this up, but he hasn’t had a trade request yet and I know that the title is a bit on the sensational side.”

In the middle of all of this, Barnes entered the fray to dissent upon Fischer’s reporting. Barnes streams himself gaming and hanging out on twitch from time to time, and we got the following interaction: “Jake L. Fischer. Why is Jake L. Fischer following me? (In reference to his Instagram page) Nah, there’s no way the man thinks it’s cool to follow me after he’s putting out bad reports. It’s sick. Talking about my boy wanting a trade? It’s sick, bro. Sickening. You’ve gotta do better, fam.”

In addition to that, on May 31st Barnes commented on an aggregated post of Fischer’s reporting on Instagram: “close source said it’s bad news”.

That was basically the fever pitch of all this stuff. Anything else that followed was speculation based on aggregation. There are thousands of people who churn out trade candidate lists, rumour mill aggregation, and all that other stuff – we heard a lot about Anunoby’s status with the Raptors.

That brings us to Media day, and while the questions were less direct with Masai Ujiri and Nick Nurse, Anunoby got a direct question about his happiness and he said he was surprised by the reporting: “Even when the report came out, I was kinda surprised by it. I just woke up one day, and I saw that, so I was kind of surprised by it. So, even the role stuff, I haven’t really talk to Nick about role. I just try to get better every summer and I think everything will fall into place. I don’t really worry about that. You can’t really worry about that.”

If you want to be cynical, that’s not a no. That isn’t, “the reporting was false”, that could be a sentiment along the lines of “I’m surprised my disgruntled feelings were made public.” It also doesn’t have to be that at all. It could just be Anunoby being his usual, reserved self and keeping things moving. Either way, he expressed happiness at being back with the team in Toronto.

The highlight of the Anunoby dialogue on media day though, was of course, Siakam’s incredulity upon being asked about it. Ujiri, Nurse, everyone else asked about OG, was hyper aware of the rumours. Siakam, if he is to be believed, had not heard anything about them. Considering Siakam’s relationship with social media (less is more) because of the vitriol he’s faced in the past, I’m inclined to believe him.

So, everyone is gearing up for training camp, and everything is cool.

If you want a breakdown of Anunoby’s season and some projection for the upcoming one? Click the following link:

Have a blessed day.

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