The vibes around the Toronto Raptors are decidedly uneven right now, as the team has struggled to withstand a host of injuries. Gary Trent Jr. has been among them thanks to a sore hip, but he hasn’t exactly been shooting the lights out when he has been healthy.
Trent, who is averaging 16.7 points and 1.5 assists per game this season, has found himself firmly in Nick Nurse’s crosshairs. Trent’s defensive effort came under scrutiny, as he looks more like the turnstile he was with the Portland Trail Blazers than the pesky turnover generator he was last season.
When the Raptors traded Norman Powell to the Pacific Northwest to acquire Trent, they did so with the goal of getting a shot-creating hooper that can provide a solid complement to a roster that is comprised of switchable defense-first players. His stagnation is getting the trade rumors starting back up again.
Trent is likely not going to be traded anytime soon, but Masai Ujiri needs to keep his antennas out and try to see what exactly a desperate team would be willing to part with to acquire the former Duke star. The notion of parting with him is a true double-edged sword that is fraught with issues that could bite the Raptors.
Pros and Cons of Toronto Raptors making Gary Trent Jr. available
Trent’s scoring, assists, deflections, and efficiency are all down from last year despite the injuries often giving him more offensive responsibility. Is there a chance that the 18 points per game Toronto saw last year is not necessarily indicative of what his baseline as a long-term asset is?
The Raptors have had some success with Thad Young at center, so what’s to stop them from bumping Trent from the starting lineup, all while moving O.G. Anunoby to 2-guard and Scottie Barnes to a more perimeter-orientated role? Shoehorning a struggling Trent in the starting lineup might not be the best short-term idea.
The Raptors may have financial reasons to consider a Trent trade. Pascal Siakam could end up with a supermax contract in the offseason, and Fred VanVleet also wants a new deal. How can the Raptors become a deep team when they are paying three players nine-figure deals? MLSE has typically been hesitant to dip into the luxury tax.
Toronto set up their Trent contract with the ability to move off him without being knee-capped. Such an opportunity is presenting itself, as Trent is starting to take a step backward. Even with his slow start, he is valuable enough as a trade asset to net Toronto a player that could replace him for this year and next.