Raptors ‘Quickley’ move to Barnes era as Pistons snap 28-game slide

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No longer will fans of the Raptors wonder what direction this franchise will forge, no denying what Saturday’s trade with the New York Knicks, off-court litigation aside, signals as the new year is about to usher in.

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The Raptors put all their cards on the table for all to see a night after losing a nail-biter to the Celtics in Boston.

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The Raptors are officially Scottie Barnes’ team — as if anyone needed a reminder — but the trade to send two-way player O.G. Anunoby, whom many were promoting as an all-star, represents the first domino to fall with additional pieces to follow.

The who and the when remain unknown.

Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. are the most likely casualties, perhaps even a Dennis Schroder and an Otto Porter Jr.

All options, in other words, are now viable with no one exempt, save Barnes and rookie Gradey Dick, whose development will be stunted with Immanuel Quickley and R.J. Barrett officially on board.

Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn were each rendered as trade ballast.

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A second-round pick coming Toronto’s way is never a bad thing.

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If a trade is based on the acquisition of the best player involved, then the Knicks emerge as winners.

However, the Raptors get their hands on two legitimate rotational pieces, two potential starters, in fact, once all the dust eventually settles at some point down the road.

Neither was in uniform Saturday night in Detroit where the host Pistons were trying to avoid infamy, while the Raptors were trying to get a win that would allow them to return home on the plus side of a three-game trip that began Wednesday night in Washington.

It was inevitable the Pistons would snap their 28-game losing streak and it came at the expense of the short-handed Raptors, who fell 129-127.

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No one is about to suggest the white flag was raised for this season, but suffice to say rookie head Darko Rajakovic and his staff have their work cut out trying to integrate two players into a system that is already a work in progress.

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So far, it hasn’t worked and chances are the Raptors will endure even more rough stretches as the deck chairs continue to get re-arranged.

Schroder was back in the starting lineup at Little Caesars Arena to join a group featuring Barnes, Siakam, Trent Jr. and Jakob Poeltl.

A night earlier, the Raptors were abysmal to begin the match in Boston, but picked up their game as it unfolded and even had a chance to win it, eventually falling short in a one-possession loss.

Playing short-handed and the back end of a back-to-back that featured Siakam and Barnes each playing big minutes in Boston, fatigue became a factor.

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Under no circumstance was Barnes going to go off by making a career-high seven three-pointers like he did Friday, but the presence of Quickley and Barrett, once fully acclimated, will definitely help spread the floor and allow Barnes to expand his offence.

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Barnes’ makes from distance in Boston were of the spot-up variety, the beneficiary of good ball movement and the Celtics deciding to play off Barnes.

Both Quickley and Barrett can create and each can shoot, especially when Barrett is in rhythm.

Despite moments of inconsistency, Barrett is adept at curling off screens and attacking the basket.

No team wants to part ways with a legitimate dual player, but Anunoby became expendable, whether it was based on basketball’s finances or a desire to assume a bigger role.

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He wasn’t going to achieve either in Toronto.

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His name has been mentioned prominently in trade rumours, making the deal hardly surprising.

The surprise comes in the form of Toronto’s trading partner given the legal back and forth.

More moves, and make no mistake about it, are forthcoming as a full-court attempt to build a team around Barnes has been set in motion.

Barnes can only get better once the Raptors complement him with better players.

Individually, he has to tighten his handle in the half court.

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Losing Siakam, at some point, will hurt, but the pain will be offset by the potential package the Raptors ultimately receive, especially if a shot-maker and an off-the-bounce creator is acquired.

It’s hard to envision Siakam being part of the team’s long-term plans given the money he’ll demand and the simple fact Barnes needs the ball in his hands.

That being said, he was elite against a Pistons team that does not match up well against Siakam.

Barnes made one three-pointer in Saturday’s opening half as the Pistons took a 52-44 lead into the break, the only shot from distance that dropped on this night.

Toronto missed 30 shots in the game’s opening 24 minutes and were a minus-8 on the glass.

The only player not to see the floor for the Raptors, who had 10 players available, was Dick, who would not receive a single second in the loss.

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Not surprisingly, the Raptors were much better to begin the second half in Motown.

More paint touches, more shots being made, more stops produced, which more or less describes how the Raptors turned their game around when a 10-point deficit would be erased.

Detroit had absolutely no answer for Siakam, who scored 20 points in the third quarter.

Heading into the fourth period, the Pistons were clinging to a 90-86 lead.

Siakam wasn’t as dominant in the game’s final 12 minutes when Detroit sent an extra defender his way, but he finished with a game-high 35 points.

Toronto’s depleted bench couldn’t match Detroit’s second unit, a big reason why the Raptors come home following a 1-2 road swing.

Not having Anunoby’s defence also played a factor, but that’s an area the Raptors will now have to address.


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