The Toronto Raptors appear to have won their trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, as they acquired the reliable Gary Trent Jr. for Norman Powell. While Powell was traded away to the Clippers after just one season, Trent has become a consistent scoring presence and leader for the Raptors.
While Powell may have been cut loose, that doesn’t change the fact that he was one of the more beloved guards in Raptors history and played a pivotal role in helping this team win a championship in 2019. He will never have to pay for a drink north of the border ever again.
Being traded is tough, but being traded by the only team you ever knew in the NBA can be devastating. While Powell has done well for himself after leaving the Raptors, falling into a premier role with a very good Clippers team, but he was still gutted when Toronto refused to keep him.
In an interview with Michael Flix on his YouTube Channel, Powell said that he was “hurt” when the Raptors traded him and said he never wanted to leave. Powell believes that a core of him, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby could have been as good as the Boston Celtics are now.
Norman Powell wanted to stay with the Toronto Raptors
Powell averaged just 9.9 points per game with the Raptors, but he had to play a very limited role for most of his career. His scoring average jumped up to 17.5 points per game in the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Trent has been everything Toronto could have hoped, as his production is right in line with what Powell did in his final seasons with Toronto while costing much less. With Trent in place of Powell, however, the Raptors have yet to win a playoff series.
While he may have an overly rosy picture of what the Siakam and VanVleet-led core could have done with him, that shouldn’t take any of the shine off Powell’s tremendous pro career in Toronto. His energy off the bench was extremely valuable for the Raptors in their quest for a championship.
Powell clearly has left a piece of his heart in Toronto, as the memories he helped make in his role as a second-unit sparkplug still seem to stick in his mind. The fanbase reciprocates those feelings, even if his idea of what the core could have done with him might not be universally agreed on.