Raptors’ Quickley, Barrett probable to return to lineup Tuesday following loss of loved ones

Immanuel Quickley had been with the Toronto Raptors for less than three months when his beloved uncle Shawn Hamilton died.

Even though he was relatively new to the organization, about a dozen members of the Raptors made the trip to attend Hamilton’s funeral. It was an act of kindness and respect that Quickley will always appreciate.

“They didn’t have to do that,” said Quickley on Monday after practice at the OVO Athletic Centre. “Love is an action not just words.

“It’s not just something that you say, it’s something that you do and they’ve definitely shown that.”

Quickley and RJ Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., will both be listed as probable when the Raptors host the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Both Quickley and Barrett have missed significant stretches of Toronto’s 13-game losing skid as they grieved the loss of loved ones.

Quickley took a leave after Hamilton died of cancer on March 20, missing six games. Barrett, whose 19-year-old brother Nathan Barrett died on March 14, has been on leave for nine games.

The two players were traded from the New York Knicks to Toronto for OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn on Dec. 30. Both Quickley and Barrett described each other as “brothers” when the deal was made and Quickley said it is apt that they will potentially return to the court together.

“It’s great. Not only just RJ — RJ is obviously my guy — but the whole team,” he said. “This organization has been great since the first day I got here.

“Just to be able to share the court with those guys has been a blessing. Look forward to it.”

WATCH | Barrett, Quickley traded to Toronto:

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Injuries have also plagued Toronto this season, contributing to the disastrous losing skid.

All-star forward Scottie Barnes (left hand fracture), centre Jakob Poeltl (left hand torn ligament), guard Ochai Agbaji (right hip), forward Chris Boucher (partial MCL tear), guard D.J. Carton (right ankle sprain) and Jontay Porter (personal reasons) will all be inactive against L.A.

‘God has been nothing short of magnificent this whole year’

Quickley said that although the season has been challenging personally and professionally, his faith has kept him going.

“God has been nothing short of magnificent this whole year,” said Quickley. “He’s been with me every step of the way. I appreciate Him.

“The love that people have shown, the love I’m going to continue to show even through my loss, I hope I can be an example to people that there’s hope still as long as you have Jesus. That’s what I try to live by.”

Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic said that it means a lot to the team to have Quickley return, as he has stepped into the starting point guard role since arriving in Toronto from the Knicks.

“For me, more than anything, it’s about team growth, individual growth to end the season on a good note here,” said Rajakovic. “He had a really rough stretch here the last couple of weeks, lost somebody very close to him, and just getting him on the court, playing basketball, is a big plus for him and us.”

Stakes still high for Raptors

Toronto (23-51) has been mathematically eliminated from the NBA’s post-season but with eight games left to play, the stakes are still high for the Raptors.

Their first-round pick in this summer’s NBA Draft is conditional, following a trade with the San Antonio Spurs for Poeltl before last season’s trade deadline. The Raptors have the sixth-worst record in the NBA but if the May 12 draft lottery shuffles them to seventh or higher, that pick goes to San Antonio.

Memphis (24-50) could also bump Toronto out of the lottery if the Grizzlies play worse than the Raptors to close out the season. The Grizzlies had a one-game lead on Toronto entering their road game against the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

Heading into Tuesday night’s game with the Lakers, the Raptors have a 37.2 per cent chance of moving up to a top-four pick in the lottery and a nine-per cent chance of drawing the first overall pick.

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