Gary Trent Jr. stuns Raptors fans, exercises $18.5 million player option

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 19: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 19: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors faced the possibility of losing some of their biggest names to free agency over the last few months, with shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. among them. With an $18.5 million player option on the table and tons of guard-needy teams, Trent was expected to follow Fred VanVleet’s lead and decline his option. 

In a stunning twist of fate, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report has said that Trent intends to exercise his player option and return to the Raptors for (at least) the 2023-24 season. If all goes well, Trent may end up staying for a while.

To make matters even better, Haynes reported that the Raptors and Trent are going to engage in discussions for a long-term deal. Toronto is keeping one of its own for years to come, all while making sure they reinforce its perimeter shooting in a meaningful way.

Gary Trent Jr. picks up player option with the Toronto Raptors.

When the Raptors acquired Trent from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Norman Powell, he was a raw shooter who was a liability on the defensive end. Not only did he maintain his offensive excellence in Toronto, but he did so while becoming a turnover generator on defense.

Trent averaged 17.4 points per game last season, making 37% of his 3-pointers and generating 1.6 steals per game. The fact that he put up those numbers while being yanked between the starting lineup and the bench makes his performance even more impressive.

Trent was one of the few Raptors who was above average from 3-point range last season, so losing him would have made their already open wound fester even more. Getting him back could be a godsend for a new coaching staff that wants to move the ball.

New coach Darko Rajakovic helped turn Desmond Bane into one of the best shooters in the league, and he wants to run a very up-tempo offensive attack. After some frustrations under Nick Nurse, Trent and Rajakovic are linking up for what could be a tremendous season with the Raptors.

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