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Where The Raptors Sit After The Anunoby Trade


The National Basketball Association season is in full swing, and the trade deadline is fast approaching. However, the Raptors jumped the gun with a blockbuster trade more than a month before the deadline, trading OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn to the New York Knicks. In exchange, the Raptors received Toronto’s own RJ Barrett, along with Immanuel Quickly, and the Pistons’ second-round pick. New York acquired the pick by sending Nerlans Noel and Alec Burks to Detroit to shed salary for Jalen Brunson’s contract.

Here’s what we know about the trade and how it sets the Raptors up going forward.

Why Did The Raptors Make The Trade?

Toronto’s 2023-24 season has been rocky from the start. Expectations were low, with only seven teams having lower NBA odds to win the Finals. The Raptors have been in a soft rebuild since winning the NBA Finals in 2019, reaching the playoffs multiple times, but eventually turning into a .500 team last season. They lost Fred VanVleet to free agency and fired head coach Nick Nurse after a disappointing 2022-23 season. Despite retaining Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, the team has struggled immensely this season. They were 12-20 and toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference at the time of the trade.

There were several factors for this. The first was the loss of VanVleet, the team’s primary ball handler. Two seasons ago, Toronto had Kyle Lowry and VanVleet playing point guard. Needing a temporary replacement, the team signed Dennis Schroder in free agency but have struggled in the backcourt, specifically with shooting. Schroder was a cheap stopgap option and has done a decent job protecting the ball, but he is not a shooter. Toronto needed help in the backcourt, and Quickley can provide that. 

Siakam wants to stay in Toronto

Further, Siakam has made it clear that he does not want to be traded despite Toronto’s efforts to do so. It is still on the table that the long-time Raptor will get traded before the deadline, but as a free-agent-to-be, his threat to not sign with any team that trades for him will surely make teams hesitant to deal with him. With the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes also on the roster, Toronto had two better players with skill-sets similar to Anunoby’s. He was an expendable asset on a team that needed help at the guard position. 

Image credit: With Paul via Unsplash

Who Did Toronto Get In The Trade?

Most experts agree that the Raptors came away with the better end of the deal, primarily thanks to Quickley. At just 190 pounds, Quickley struggles to get to the rim and has never been the primary playmaker. His role in New York was mostly to come off the bench and score. Toronto will ask him to develop more into the point guard position, playing off Barnes. Hopefully, his scoring ability will threaten defense, allowing him to open up scoring opportunities for his teammates. 

The trade also opens things up more for Siakam and Barnes, sharing skill sets with one less player and giving them more freedom to work. The 2nd round pick is also an underrated asset from this trade. The Pistons have the worst record in the league, so that pick will likely be at 31st overall, making it a soft first-round pick without the contract that comes with a first-round pick.

The biggest question surrounds Barrett. An argument could be made that getting Barrett’s contract off their books was part of the return for New York. The Canadian returns home in the first year of a four-year, $83 million contract, meaning Toronto controls him for another three seasons after this one. He struggled a bit in New York, specifically with his shooting. He shot just 31% from behind the arc last season and struggled with spacing on the floor. However, when he wasn’t sharing the floor with Julius Randle, his assist percentage nearly doubled, showing he can facilitate better than we saw in New York. 

Image credit: Brian Jones via Unsplash

Where Does Toronto Stand After The Trade?

There are questions surrounding both Barrett and Quickley, but there are inherent positives from the trade. The first is that Barrett and Quickley are 23 and 24, respectively, with projectable upside. While they also have bust potential, Quickley is a legitimately good player who can shoot and defend well. He is efficient, and if he can develop into a serviceable playmaker, the Raptors might have found something. Barrett has his warts but also played in a system that could have been better suited to his play style. Having him for at least three full seasons gives Toronto time and flexibility to see where he fits. 

Pairing those two with Barnes and Siakam and another youngster in Gary Trent Jr certainly gives the Raptors a better roster and rotation than they did before the trade. And as noted earlier, that 2nd round pick is an underrated piece of this trade. Quickley was drafted with the 25th overall pick. Teams can find value at 31 or 32. 

Where The Raptors Go From Here

Toronto has won three out of four games after the trade and has some momentum for its rebuild. However, there are still significant question marks. While Siakam doesn’t want to be traded, he has indicated he may leave Toronto after this season. The Raptors have long delayed his contract, so a trade in February or a contract extension seem like viable options. By next month, Raptors fans should know more about their team’s future.

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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