The Raptors were shorthanded for that 129-127 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday, as earlier in the day they traded OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn to the New York Knicks for RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and a second-round pick.
Barrett and Quickley are available and will make their Raptor debuts tonight. It’ll be fascinating to see how head coach Darko Rajakovic integrates the pair into his “motion/ball movement-oriented offense”; suffice to say that offense hasn’t been super-successful so far this year, and despite what Barrett and Quickley bring to the table, overall, the Raptors’ most glaring weakness — outside shooting — still remains, and their bench remains woefully thin. Can Darko take advantage of the new additions’ speed and creativity, and their ability to create? We’ll find out! Quickley, for his part, said some promising things in his introductory press conference earlier today, noting that he hadn’t had much opportunity to create for his teammates in New York, and he’s looking forward to doing more of that here. The Raptors actually led the league in assists in December, so Quickley’s mindset should fit right in.
As for the bench, well, we’ll also see what this change means for Gary Trent Jr. and Dennis Schröder; Schröder has started most of the year, with Trent starting the one game (a win over the lowly Washington Wizards) before the trade. Schröder is definitely a better bench player than starter (whether he knows it or not) but Trent has typically played much better as a starter. In a vacuum I might start Trent over Barrett, but given Barrett’s reputation and salary, I have to believe he’ll be a starter here (and I actually think the Raptors should do everything they can to fully evaluate Barrett over the next four months, and see if starting over on a new team actually helps him find his rhythm more consistently).
The new era is about to begin. Let’s watch!
How to Watch
7:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet
Toronto: Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl, Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett
Cleveland: Jarrett Allen, Max Strus, Donovan Mitchell, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade
Toronto: Christian Koloko (respiratory — out), Garrett Temple (ankle — doubtful)
Cleveland: Darius Garland (jaw — out), Ty Jerome (ankle — out), Evan Mobley (knee — out)