Restricted free agent Immanuel Quickley agrees to 5-year, $175 million contract with Raptors: Report

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 7: Immanuel Quickley #5 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles against the Washington Wizards during the second half of their basketball game at the Scotiabank Arena on April 7, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Immanuel Quickley dribbles during the second half of a game at the Scotiabank Arena on April 7, 2024, in Toronto. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Restricted free agent guard Immanuel Quickley has agreed to terms on a five-year, $175 million contract to remain with the Toronto Raptors, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The 25th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Quickley spent his first 3 1/2 seasons with the New York Knicks, serving primarily as a spark-plug combo guard off the bench for head coach Tom Thibodeau. He became a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden for his combination of speed in transition, quick-trigger launches from 3-point land, excellent point-of-attack and help-side defense and penchant for helping tilt games whenever he checked in.

There was also the skipping:

New York’s net rating was 8.1 points per 100 possessions better with Quickley on the floor than off it in 2020-21, 12.2 points per 100 better in 2021-22 and 8.5 points per 100 better in 2022-23 — a breakout third season in which the Kentucky product averaged 14.9 points on 45/37/82 shooting splits to go with 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1 steal in 28.9 minutes per game and finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting. (Full disclosure: I had him first on my ballot.)

Quickley’s per-minute/per-possession production and sterling advanced analytical profile suggested he was a player who, given starter’s minutes and a heavier workload, might prove to be a star hiding in plain sight. But with Jalen Brunson entrenching himself as a bona fide superstar in New York — and Thibodeau evidently uncomfortable with the defensive drawbacks of pairing two smaller guards, irrespective of the sparkling lineup data for the tandem — it didn’t seem likely Quickley would get that kind of runway on Broadway. And with a high-cost decision on his future coming in the form of his looming restricted free agency, the Knicks chose to spin off Quickley, shipping him to Toronto along with forward RJ Barrett in exchange for 3-and-D wing OG Anunoby, reserve big man Precious Achiuwa and backup guard Malachi Flynn (who would later go on to put up one of the most random 50-balls in NBA history).

Much of the attention and analysis after the trade focused on the role Anunoby played in transforming the Knicks into a 50-win team that looked, however briefly, like a title contender. On the other side of the swap, though, Quickley stepped into duty as a starting point guard for the first time, averaging nearly 35 more touches per game as a Raptor than he did as a Knick and nearly doubling his average time of possession.

He strained, at times, in his first attempt at shouldering the shot-creation workload on a team without a ton of offensive talent. The Raptors scored just 112.6 points per 100 possessions with Quickley on the court, right in line with Toronto’s 24th-ranked full-season offensive efficiency mark.

For the most part, though? Quickley looked the part:

In 38 starts for a Raptors team struggling to find a new normal after moving longtime linchpins Anunoby and Pascal Siakam in an effort to rebuild around new cornerstone Scottie Barnes, Quickley averaged 18.6 points, 6.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per game. He shot 39.5% from 3-point land on 7.1 attempts per game and 84.1% from the free-throw line on four attempts a night. His assist rate spiked, dishing dimes on a career-best 29.5% of his teammates’ baskets. His turnover rate remained low, with cough-ups coming on just over 10% of the possessions he used.

Only four players in the NBA averaged at least 15 points per game while posting an assist rate that high and a turnover rate that low over the course of the full season. The list: MVP finalist Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, All-NBA selection (and Quickley’s former teammate) Brunson, NBA champion Jamal Murray … and Fred VanVleet, the longtime Toronto triggerman into whose role Quickley stepped with the revamped Raptors.

The 6-foot-3 guard has room for improvement. A look at the standings makes it clear that those strong individual statistics didn’t necessarily translate neatly into wins; Toronto went 12-26 in Quickley’s 38 starts and was outscored by 5.7 points per 100 in his minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.

As Quickley’s usage rose, his scoring efficiency declined, especially inside the arc; he shot just 34.8% between the restricted area and the 3-point line in Toronto, and while he shot a strong 70% at the rim after joining the Raptors, he has struggled to generate shots at the cup throughout his career. (The increased patience in maintaining a live dribble that he showed at times on drives later in the season could help a lot there.) He’s got to get more comfortable with handling the kind of blitzes and traps that a prolific pull-up 3-point shooter and downhill driver will have to deal with as a full-time lead guard. He’ll also have to develop the conditioning and consistency that will allow him to remain a helpful defensive contributor while doing heavier lifting on the offensive end.

In broad strokes, though, the early returns on the big ideas behind the deal — let’s try to find a good partner for our huge do-it-all All-Star point forward and we think this lightning quick sixth man can scale up — were pretty solid. Over the full season, the Raptors got outscored by 528 points in just under 4,000 minutes. In the 600 minutes that Barnes and Quickley shared the floor, though? They were a plus-15.

That’s not a guarantor of future greatness, but it is a decent place to start. Heading into last season, the list of players to average 19 points, four rebounds and four assists per 36 minutes on league-average-or-better true shooting through their first four campaigns is littered with All-Stars; Quickley’s now on that list. Whether the just-turned-25-year-old will join his predecessors in collecting the league’s highest honors remains to be seen. What this new deal signifies, though, is that he’ll get the opportunity to earn his place in their company.