How the 2022-23 season impacts Gary Trent Jr, Raptors plans

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 23: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 23: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

When the Toronto Raptors acquired Gary Trent Jr. as the main asset in the Norman Powell trade, reactions from Toronto fans were mixed on a deal that sent a fan favorite away. Trent quickly got the fans on his side and ended the 2020-21 season strong, averaging 16 points per game as a Raptor, including a career-high 44-point game.

He was rewarded with a 3-year, $51 million deal in the offseason, which was a solid deal for both sides and a remarkable job to Trent’s agent Rich Paul for securing a player option in the final year. Not content with his role as a 3-point marksman who was a traffic cone on defense, Trent took some huge steps forward.

In his first full season in Toronto, Trent saw his numbers jump up, averaging 18.3 points per game on an improved 41% from the field. Not only did his offensive numbers get better, but turning from a negative on the defensive end by ranking the league leaders in steals and deflections speaks volumes to the Raptors’ development system.

Barring a massive regression this season, Trent will almost certainly be declining his player option. Becoming a free agent at just 24 years old and en route to negotiating a third contract is very rare in today’s game. That impending negotiation is going to hang over Toronto’s outlook for the 2022-23 season.

Will Gary Trent Jr. be with the Toronto Raptors beyond this season?

There seems to be an ongoing narrative that the Raptors will just be resigning their starting five long-term. With most of them becoming free agents in the next few years, it’s up to the players to make the decision whether they want to come back, Trent being one of them.

Assuming he continues to improve, Toronto would have to pony up a significant pay raise, possibly close to $25 million annually with the way contracts are being handed out nowadays.

Even if GTJ wants to return, would Toronto be willing to pay him? The Raptors already have some hefty extensions to hand out to Fred VanVleet, potential supermax candidate Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby.

Assuming Trent’s potential contract would be long-term, it’s never too early to think about how it could affect the future extensions of Precious Achiuwa and Scottie Barnes.

As good as Trent is, he’s not as high on the priority list as Barnes or Siakam, The only way he can change that is by playing out of his mind this season. If Toronto has a 24-year-old two-way stud with tremendous 3-point shooting on their hands, they’d be stupid not to retain him.

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