The two newest Toronto Raptors, point guard Immanuel Quickley and wing RJ Barrett, underwent a shocking life event when they had to uproot their entire professional career and move up to Canada following the New York Knicks' decision to acquire OG Anunoby in a trade.
While Barrett at least has the benefit of going back to the area he grew up in, this is uncharted waters for Quickley. In just a few days, Quickley went from an invaluable part of the Knicks' rotation to someone they were willing to ditch for an upgrade.
In a piece Quickley penned for the Players' Tribune, the dynamic point guard mentioned how this trade news was immediate and came with no forewarning. While that could be a severe punch in the gut for a young player to go through, Quickley took it in stride and embraced his new team.
“Everybody’s really just one big family, for real. It’s really cool to see and be a part of,” Quickley said. “I just want the Raptors fans to know, if you’re reading this, I wouldn’t want to start my next chapter anywhere else.” That's a not-insignificant stamp of endorsement for his new squad.
Immanuel Quickley remains excited to play for the Toronto Raptors.
Quickley has averaged 19.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game in six games with the Raptors. After being limited to a Sixth Man role in New York, Quickley has evolved into a starting point guard who has made plays on both ends with the Raptors.
A restricted free agent at the end of the season, Toronto likely made the Anunoby trade with the expectation they would match any offer for him in free agency. The Knicks may not have been willing to commit to him as a long-term starter in the last few years, but Toronto played a great deal of hope and trust in his ability.
Quickley seems to be a fan of the culture shift he undertook after leaving New York. While Tom Thibodeau (who is a good coach) can be as overbearing as an Army sergeant, Darko Rajakovic's positive mindset might be what Quickley needed to take that next step as a player in his career.
The Raptors will return to Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks on January 20 in what is sure to be a very emotional game for Barrett and Quickley. After being viewed as immutable cornerstones for most of their Knicks careers, they have the chance to prove their old team wrong with Toronto.