Should the Toronto Raptors have given Gary Trent Jr. a player option?

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: Alec Burks #18 of the New York Knicks in action against Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: Alec Burks #18 of the New York Knicks in action against Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Even though the Toronto Raptors had to deal with saying goodbye to Kyle Lowry this offseason, fans can take solace in the fact that they were able to re-sign guard Gary Trent Jr. on a long-term contract. If everything goes as planned, Trent could end up staying in Toronto until 2024.

Acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in the Norman Powell deal, Trent averaged 16.2 points per game on 39.5% shooting during his time with Toronto. However, he averaged 18.4 points per game on 46% shooting in his first 10 games before injuries made it difficult to replicate that performance.

Three years and $51 million might seem a bit expensive for someone with one season of true high-end production, but Toronto seems to be banking on the wise notion that with a higher volume of shots away from Damian Lillard, Trent could break out.

That doesn’t mean that his contract was a complete win for the front office, either. Rich Paul did a good job setting Trent up nicely for the future.

As John Hollinger of The Athletic notes, Trent has an $18.6 million player option that could enable him to opt out and hit free agency at 24 years old. Depending on his production, that could come back to bite Toronto in the but.

Gary Trent Jr. and his option could be problematic for the Toronto Raptors.

Let’s say the nightmare scenario happens and Trent doesn’t perform like a $17 million per season guard. If that happens, he will almost assuredly pick the option up. With Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby all scheduled to earn eight figures in 2023, that could do a number on their financial flexibility.

Let’s say that Trent really his stride and emerges as one of the best young guards in the game. There’s a good chance that he could opt out of the final year of his deal, meaning he will be a 24-year-old shooter entering his prime. With the amount of money that could be tossed at him in this scenario, could Toronto afford to compete?

With the three members of Toronto’s young core again eating up a ton of money, retaining Trent may be difficult.

Essentially, the Raptors need to hope Trent is good enough that he gives them adequate value for the amount of monetary investment they put into him, yet not too good that he decides to bolt a year early in search of a more expensive deal.

Even with those concerns, Raptors fans should be very excited about Trent, as his 44-point game against the Cavaliers, buzzer-beater against the Wizards, and +54 night against the Warriors prove what kind of player Toronto is getting.

The Toronto Raptors won’t be able to return to the postseason in either of the last two years unless Trent plays like an $18 million guard. While he should be in for the most productive season of his career, his future is a bit cloudy.

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