The Toronto Raptors are a team that is often mentioned as the key player at the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline. With names like Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. being mentioned as candidates to go elsewhere potentially, the Raptors have some big decisions to make.
The latest buzz from league insider Marc Stein suggests that even with Toronto’s reported hesitance to dip entirely into selling mode, the Raptors have made it clear that Trent can be had if a team comes with the right price. Even after averaging 18.4 points per game this season, Trent’s contract makes things complicated.
The Raptors could lose Trent for nothing in the offseason, as he might decline his player option and try to grab a nine-figure contract elsewhere. With the trade market slightly out of whack right now, Toronto might be able to grab multiple first-round picks in a deal that has Trent at the center.
The Raptors need to be very judicious about how they handle trading away Trent. Making a move just for the sake of making a move could be so detrimental to the team’s immediate and long-term future due to Trent’s ability to fix one of the team’s most glaring holes.
The Toronto Raptors shouldn’t trade Gary Trent Jr.
The Raptors don’t seem like a team that will likely commit to a full-scale rebuild, so the idea of trading away both Trent and VanVleet likely isn’t happening. If the Raptors commit nine figures to VanVleet in the offseason, and Pascal Siakam qualifies for a supermax, they could commit close to $400 million to those two players.
From a roster construction point of view, the Raptors are so dependent on Trent to have any semblance of a game that makes them respectable from the perimeter. Trading him for another young shooter would just be rearranging the deck chairs in the short term.
They should solve their problem with Trent, not swap him out for a similar player.
Trent is going to turn 24 years old in a week, so he has his best basketball ahead of him. If Toronto is still confident in their ability to develop offensive talent, they could be sitting on a gold mine who outplays whatever contract is given to him.
Trent might seem like the most tradeable of Toronto’s starters, but he could be a crippling blow to their short-term optimism. Whatever first-round picks they acquire and new players they bring in will be done with the intent of replicating Trent’s performance. Why not just stick with the tried and true original?