Toronto Raptors: Why trading Norman Powell was the right move

TAMPA, FLORIDA - MARCH 19: Norman Powell #24 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - MARCH 19: Norman Powell #24 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

After spending six seasons with one team in his career, Norman Powell saw his time with the Toronto Raptors is over, as the team traded Powell to the Portland Trail Blazers for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood during the NBA trade deadline.

Powell has some memorable moments during his time in Toronto, like the time he helped the Raptors come back from a 25-point deficit against the Indiana Pacers during Game 5 of the first round in the 2016 NBA Playoffs and that secured a win for Toronto.

He overcame some struggled during the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals with his game three performance where he had 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Powell is having a career year this season and he is one of the reasons why the Raptors are still technically in the playoff picture even though they are 11th in the East.

So, was it the right move to trade Powell to Portland with playoff hopes still a possibility? As hard as it is to stomach, trading Powell was the only logical step.

The Toronto Raptors had to trade Norman Powell

Powell is currently averaging 19.7 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per game. Those stats were the reason why multiple teams wanted to have Powell on their team. He was having a career year.

His value is as high as it ever been. Powell could be a free agent this summer because he has a player option, and he will look to cash in. Currently making $10.8 million this season, Powell could get a contract at around $20 million a year. If you can get a younger, cheaper replacement in Trent, why not make this move?

Raptors President Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster clearly had some cautions of keeping Powell long term. Otherwise, he would still be a Raptor right now. Ujiri craved financial flexibility in an offseason when he was to have tons of cap space, and trading Powell helps further that end.

Signing Powell long-term would hurt the flexibility of their cap space, especially if they give him the $20 million per year contract that he could potentially get this summer. Getting Trent Jr and Hood for Powell was the only move they could’ve made.

Toronto Raptors: Benefits of Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood

Trent Jr. is very similar to Powell. They were both picked in the second round of their respective draft class and are also both good offensive players. The two main differences between these two players are that Trent Jr. is 22 years old, whereas Powell is 27 years old. Trent Jr. is also a better perimeter defender than Powell.

Toronto Raptors acquisition Gary Trent Jr. Stats

  • 14.6 points per game
  • 2.3 rebounds per game
  • 1.4 assists per game
  • 40% field goal percentage
  • 39% 3-point percentage

He has good stats, but he hasn’t scratched the surface yet. He is also restricted free agent in the offseason.

That means he can sign an offer sheet with any team he wants, but the Raptors can match the offer. Paying around $12-$15 million per season wouldn’t be ridiculous, meaning it will be cheaper to re-sign him than keeping Powell. Since Trent Jr. has good potential, he’s a great asset to use in a trade if an All-Star type of player becomes available.

Hood gives the Raptors scoring off the bench since their bench scoring hasn’t been good this season. His numbers are bad this season, but with a fresh start and more playing time, he can be better in the second half of the season. If not, his contract is non-guaranteed next year which means they can trade him to another team or cut him in the offseason.

Despite Powell having a career year, it was the right move for the Raptors to trade him. With the Raptors’ uncertain future as a winning team up in the air, getting Trent Jr., a younger version of Powell that can play defense, and Hood, who can be a good scorer off the bench, helps the team improve with the flexibility of the cap space instead of keeping Powell.