The Toronto Raptors have very few holdovers from the 2019 championship team still on the roster, as Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are among the few who have survived all of Masai Ujiri’s roster purges. Norman Powell was not so lucky, as the Tampa season prompted a trade.
Powell was sent to the Portland Trail Blazers in a deal that sent Gary Trent Jr. back to Toronto. After just 67 games with the team, Powell was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for a bunch of spare assets. At least he’ll get to compete for a championship on this team.
While Powell didn’t get a very grand sendoff due to the nature of the Tampa bubble and the state of the team at that time, he is still remembered warmly in the hearts of Raptors fans. Powell said he’s looking forward to his return to Toronto as a member of the visiting team.
Per Farbod Esnaashari of Sports Illustrated, Powell said that the Raptors are the only team he has circled on his calendar. He said it with a smile on his face, reportedly, showing that this was coming from a place of friendly competition rather than actual malice.
Norman Powell is excited to play against the Toronto Raptors.
Powell averaged 9.9 points per game in six seasons with Toronto. That might not sound too earth-shattering, but the box score doesn’t show all the big-time shots he nailed in some deep postseason runs. Powell’s scoring nearly doubled after Kawhi Leonard left.
Powell averaged 18.0 points per game in Portland, showing more of the elite shooting skill that helped Toronto win a championship. Though he played in just five games with LA last year, he averaged 21.4 points per contest. He’ll likely be the No. 3 scorer behind Leonard and Paul George this season.
The Clippers have a fetish for adding 2019 Raptors, as Serge Ibaka signed in LA in addition to the monumental Leonard deal. When the Raptors and Clippers meet up, Toronto will have to be very scared of their former teammate and the destruction he can bring to a defense.
Powell and the Raptors will be linked forever in history, as his rise from a fairly anonymous second-round pick to a valued rotation member on a title team is one of the most remarkable stories of perseverance in team history. Hopefully, he doesn’t have too strong of a game against Toronto when he links back up.