Raptors must prioritize keeping Gary Trent Jr. amid thin FA class

The Toronto Raptors signed Gary Trent Jr. to a three-year contract with an opt-out after the second assuming that he could be a nice compliment to their main stars like Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. With the 2021-22 season in the history books, Trent proved that he is one of the best off-ball guards in the game.

Trent, fresh off averaging 18.3 points per game last year, is almost assured to opt out of the final year of his contract to cash in. With so many players on the roster needing contracts taken care of alongside Trent, Toronto will have to be very financially creative.

With Fred VanVleet eyeing a $110 million extension, Pascal Siakam playing like a max contract player, and Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in need of his inevitable megadeal, there is a legitimate chance that Toronto ends up getting priced out of a return.

If Trent declines his player option and starts demanding an average annual value in excess of $20 million per season (which is not unreasonable for someone with his scoring skill), the Raptors could be left to sift through a less than desirable crop of replacement players.

The Toronto Raptors could lose Gary Trent Jr.

Excluding all of the first and second-year stars who will assuredly have their club options picked up, there aren’t many players on Trent’s level. The closest one might be Cavaliers wing Caris LeVert, but Trent is clearly a superior player from an offensive standpoint.

Even with so many significant extensions to consider, Toronto would be foolish to cast aside one of the few players on this team who can take a game over purely from the perimeter thanks to his shooting skill. With this team positioned for playoff runs, drafting a Trent replacement in the late teens or early 20s might be too risky.

The only way that Toronto could possibly justify sending Trent away is by showing that either OG Anunoby or Barnes has made the leap from good to great beyond the arc. Without it, Trent could secure a bigger bag with a conference rival while Toronto picks through the scrap heap to replace him.

While the NBA salary cap means that it is nigh impossible to keep five star players that have the potential to earn nine-figure contracts, the Raptors need to find a way to make sure Trent stays in Toronto for the next few years. In just a few months, he’s become an unmoveable part of the Toronto core.