The first phase of the Great Raptors Retool is underway.
OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn are out. Starring Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett. And Darko Lajaković will now be working with a different group of players. Of course, that’s only a short-term story.
More big moves could follow, as Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. will become unrestricted free agents in the summer unless they sign new contracts first. It’s impossible to ignore this fact when trying to sort out where the Raptors stand, but today we’ll look at how Quickley and Barrett will slot into the existing group, and how the team will add elite defenseman Anunoby (and sometimes Achiuwa ). ) was brought to the table.
Expect the Raptors to (sorry!) insert Quickley into the starting lineup soon. The question is whether to prioritize the more reliable outside shooting of Gary Trent Jr. next to him, or whether to use Barrett, who only came off the bench once as a Knick. Barrett is big and can be deadly going downhill, scoring off drives and getting to the free throw line, but inexplicably, he’s finished his drives better this season than last. is also nearly 10% worse. Trent is driving the ball hard but spacing the floor better, which could be the key as long as Siakam is around.
If Siakam is dealt, it makes sense for Barrett to start. At this point, that may not be the case despite their pedigree, as he, Siakam, Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl are all developing and prefer to be active near the paint. Barrett is also used to a higher usage rate than he would get here as a starter than he would get as a reserve. Barrett and Dennis Schroder would form one of the most dangerous backup duos in the NBA.
Or maybe it’s Quickley’s ability to pull up and make three-point shots (he makes over 40% of such attempts, which is better than Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, and Tyrese Harri). That’s about as much as some of the NBA’s brightest stars like Barton have been sitting, while Trent, Schroder, and Barnes have been (less than 27.1% each), or quickly driving to the hoop, and Siakam, Poeltl, Taking a help defender away from Barnes, or Barrett, could allow Barrett to work with the starters.
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Rajkovic will have options with this more balanced roster. Veteran Otto Porter Jr. and big man Chris Boucher could work well with the Schroder/Barrett bench unit until management makes further plans.
This is one of those deals where both parties should be able to exit to their satisfaction. Anunoby is a great fit for New York, which is to be expected given his ties to New York management, especially if he stays there long term. If Mitchell Robinson returns next season, New York should have an imposing defense, and Anunoby’s shooting should improve the team’s spacing. Achiuwa could help hold the fort a bit up front in Robinson’s absence, and the team could audition him ahead of restricted free agency.
Toronto acquired the perfect guard to complement the upstart Barnes in Quickley, who wanted more than New York was willing to pay him. He will get paid and take on a bigger role in Toronto. Barrett is a decent player so far with some holes in his game. But he’s only 23, has great talent and pedigree, and is also the most talented of the eight Canadians Toronto has signed. He would also be proud to come home and play for the team he grew up a fan of (although one grandfather was a huge Knicks fan long before the Raptors existed), sources said. He says he’s not the distracting type some people are. It’s time for the players to go home.
The team had discussions with Anunoby about Barrett last season, multiple sources told Postmedia as far back as the 2022-23 season, but Toronto was interested in Barrett and multiple mid-range first-round picks for Anunoby at the time. It is said that there was no Raptors management loved Anunoby (as I’ve noted several times in this column, they believed Anunoby, not Siakam, was the team’s next star before the championship season, and that he (I never lost faith that it was a gem), but I knew: Given his appeal to join the Knicks (or the possibility of a huge offer elsewhere, like Houston did with Fred VanVleet), it makes sense to re-sign him. It wasn’t.
Plus, along with Barrett and a very valuable second-round pick (Detroit’s pick would go to the Raptors and should go either No. 31 or No. 32, with the selected player’s subsequent contract acquired). Once the promising Quickley also became an option (he doesn’t have the same guarantees as a first-round contract), the Raptors ultimately signed a deal.
Assuming Quickley signs an offseason deal worth over $25 million, Barnes has a monster extension coming up in two years and Barrett is owed an average of $27.6 million over the next three seasons. Poeltl is still owed just under $20 million over two seasons. With three more years (he can opt out before the 2026-27 season), he could pay Siakam near maximum and avoid the luxury tax on the NBA salary cap, which is expected to rise significantly once a new broadcast deal is signed. There’s still room for escape.
But Siakam turns 30 in April and may no longer fit into Toronto’s revamped schedule (Barnes is 22, Quickley 24, Barrett 23, Grady Dick 20). . Trent, 24, is expected to make significantly less money than Siakam in his next contract, but it might be a smart move to keep him around even though Siakam is clearly the better player.
Importantly, Toronto’s deep thinkers still have options. This was the very first domino.