Gary Trent Jr. deal looks even better for Raptors after Blazers trade

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 01: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 01: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors got tons of production out of a former second-round pick in Norman Powell, as he helped them win a championship before emerging as an elite shooter. Still, Masai Ujiri saw fit to trade the impending free agent to the Portland Trail Blazers to acquire a younger off-ball shooter in Gary Trent Jr.

The Raptors needed to find a guard that would be slightly cheaper with a higher defensive ceiling, while Portland wanted a legitimate third scorer next to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. While Powell has been an excellent player in the first year of his five-year, $90 million contract, the Blazers already dealt him for pennies on the dollar.

Portland traded Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, and 2021 first-round pick Keon Johnson. Portland got a second-round pick in return, but that is hardly an adequate return for a player that they traded one of their best young assets in order to acquire.

Essentially, the Blazers trading a young guard in his prime in Trent for a guard in Bledsoe that might not even be back next season, a young guard that clearly needs time in the G League before providing any sort of NBA production, and a second-round pick three years from now. Not great.

The Toronto Raptors won the Norman Powell/Gary Trent Jr. trade.

In exchange for two half-seasons with Powell, the biggest piece Portland got in return was Bledsoe. While he has a partially guaranteed contract for 2022, there is no guarantee that he’ll be back. Winslow is in an ancillary throw-in that won’t help this roster.

Johnson (who I was a big fan of in the draft) managed to slip to No. 21 overall, but the fact that Brandon Boston Jr. already asserted himself as a superior player. He’s not in the no-doubt, blue-chip prospect tier that would’ve made this trade acceptance despite his athletic gifts.

Trent, meanwhile, is averaging 18.1 points per game while making 40% of his 3-pointers on eight attempts per game. When combined with some tremendous defense and turnover generation, it looks like the Blazers got the short end of the stick after turning Powell into some subpar assets.

The Raptors have a potential budding star in their ranks, and the Clippers got an efficient 3-point shooter with championship experience to serve as the team’s tertiary scorer. The Blazers got a random box of scraps that might turn into something approximating the value Powell brings.

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