Should the Toronto Raptors consider trading Norman Powell?

Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors, Norman Powell (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Powell’s contract status

In the fall of 2017, Powell signed a four-year, $42 million contract extension. The final year of that contract is a player option. As a result, Powell has the ability to opt-out of his current deal and become a free agent next summer.

If Powell exercises his fourth-year option, the Raptors might be able to keep both him and Anunoby. That depends on where the salary cap ends up. But if Powell opts out, the Raptors won’t be able to maintain his cap hold and sign Giannis.

Given everything that Powell brings to the floor, expect him to opt-out. Powell is set to earn $11.6 million in 2021-22. Take a look around the rest of the league and you will see that is below market value.

Powell is not an All-Star. But he is a solid 3-and-D type player. Teams covet what Powell brings to the floor. That’s why a player of his caliber will get paid.

Buddy Hield signed a four-year, $94 million contract. Caris LeVert signed a three-year, $52.5 million contract. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Danny Green both sign two-year, $30 million deals.

One player to watch this offseason is Malik Beasley with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Beasley turned down a three-year, $30 million contract before the start of the season. Beasley is a good player and has shown flashes when given consistent playing time.

Beasley was traded to the Wolves at the trade deadline. In 14 games after the trade, Beasley averaged 20.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Keeping Beasley will be a priority for the Wolves this offseason, but it is going to cost them. Whatever deal Beasley gets should be viewed as a baseline for Powell and the Raptors in any future negotiations.

In order to keep Powell beyond next season, the Raptors will need to offer him at least $15 million annually, if not more. That along with new contracts for Siakam, VanVleet, and Anunoby would all but eliminate the team’s ability to carve out max cap space for Giannis.

Meanwhile, we have seen in recent history that two-way wings are one of the most valuable commodities in the NBA.

The Denver Nuggets got a first-round pick for Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez. The Clippers gave up a future first and second for Marcus Morris. Those deals don’t rise to the level of the Harris trade, but first-round picks are key pieces for any team trying to build a contender.

The 2021 NBA Draft is projected to be one of the deepest in the last five or 10 years. First-round picks are locked into cost-controlled four-year deals. Moving Powell for one or two future picks might be the best decision the Raptors can make. This is especially true since there is a real risk the team won’t be able to keep him beyond next season.

Trading Powell in the offseason is premature. That is unless the Raptors get seriously blown away by an offer.

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But you can bet Ujiri will be reading the tea leaves. If it looks like Powell is going to opt-out, Ujiri should seriously consider moving him before next year’s trade deadline. It would give the front office more trade chips. It would also clean up the books enough to allow the Toronto Raptors to make a serious run at Giannis.