Raptors Notes: Poeltl, Olynyk, Quickley, Barnes, Porter

The Raptors expected to win a lot more than 25 games this season, but there’s more optimism than disappointment as players look to the future, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. While a series of injuries led to a nosedive after the All-Star break, there’s a feeling that things will be different with a chance to start over this fall.

“I think for sure there’s a lot of things to be excited about,” said Jakob Poeltl, who missed the final 21 games with a dislocated finger. “You could see that at times when we had our guys out there on the court — we really had limited time playing together — but still it felt good, and it looked good, and the results were there. And I don’t think those were outliers; it was more that almost all of the losses were more of the outliers than when we were actually performing. 

“So that gives you a lot of confidence. That gives me a lot of hope looking forward to next season, to be able to show that more and to be able to show that from an overall talent perspective I don’t think we are where we’re supposed to be in the standings. To be able to show that will be cool.”

Grange notes that the team went through a major upheaval in the middle of the season, as seven players were traded away within six weeks, including franchise cornerstones Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. In addition to Poeltl, Scottie Barnes and Chris Boucher also suffered season-ending injuries, while the deaths of relatives took RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley away from the team for a while.

“The dominos just fell,” said Kelly Olynyk, who was acquired from Utah at the trade deadline. “Injury, injury, injury, obviously, personal stuff that you can’t discount, guys having to be away from the team, that was a tough stretch there.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Quickley sounds eager to re-sign with the Raptors in free agency this summer, Grange adds. The 24-year-old guard averaged a career-best 18.6 PPG after being acquired from New York in late December. “I’ve absolutely loved Toronto since the day I got here,” Quickley said. “They’ve done nothing but show me love. Love is an action word. It’s not just something you just throw around. They’ve done that from the day I got here to today. So obviously the team and my agent have to handle everything, but I love being here in Toronto absolutely.” The Raptors can make Quickley a restricted free agent by submitting an $8.5MM qualifying offer.
  • The most encouraging thing to come from Toronto’s season was the progress of Barnes, who reached a new level before a broken finger put him out of action on March 1, observes Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. “I played against Scottie when I was younger,” Barrett said. “But seeing it up close and personal every day, it’s amazing what he does. He does everything.”
  • The Raptors issued a statement after the NBA announced Jontay Porter‘s lifetime ban for his involvement in a gambling scandal, Lewenberg tweets. “The Raptors are fully supportive of the league’s decision to ban Jontay Porter from the NBA and are grateful for the swift resolution to this investigation,” it reads. “We will continue to cooperate with all ongoing inquiries.”
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