The Raptors must prioritize Gary Trent Jr. over OG Anunoby in extension talks

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 31: OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors reacts with Gary Trent Jr. #33 (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 31: OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors reacts with Gary Trent Jr. #33 (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

During the free agency period of this past offseason, the Toronto Raptors had a few prominent names on its list of priorities to retain, as Fred VanVleet, Jakob Poeltl, and possibly Gary Trent Jr. could all leave the team for new scenery.

In the end, VanVleet departed for the Houston Rockets as he accepted a three-year, $130M contract. Raptors fans could breathe a sigh of relief as the team was able to bring back Poeltl on a four-year, $78M deal. To the surprise of many, Trent settled on returning to Toronto as he exercised his $18.5M player option.

With both Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby set to be due for new lucrative deals in addition to Trent hitting the open market again, the anxiety is palpable. Thus, it could prove quite costly to bring back all of these players on big contracts, and there will be some tough decision-making needed when it comes to choosing the select players.

If the Raptors’ front office were to find themselves picking between an extension for Anunoby or GTJ, Trent should definitely be the priority.

Toronto Raptors should make resigning Gary Trent Jr. a top priority.

Anunoby is an outstanding player with tons of All-Defensive versatility and solid 3-point shooting prowess. There have long been expectations from Raptors fans for Anunoby to make a significant leap, and he certainly has evolved as a player over the years.

Having said that, it could prove quite tricky for a player of Anunoby’s talent to break out as part of the current Raptors roster truly. Anunoby may raise his ceiling as a primary option on another team, such as Mikal Bridges’ resurgence post-KD trade to the Brooklyn Nets.

For this reason, it might be time for Toronto to let Anunoby unlock his full potential in another home. The writing might be on the wall anyway, as recent reports suggest Anunoby is prepared to explore his value on the open market. It would hurt significantly to sacrifice what he brings on the defensive end, but if Anunoby’s asking price is unreasonable, then Toronto should do whatever it takes to keep Trent.

Trent could be a valuable, complimentary piece for basically any team in the NBA. At his best hour, he brings lights-out shooting to go along with a toughness on the defensive end. Moreover, GTJ does not need to be the focal point of an offense. You can plug him in the starting lineup to bolster the backcourt efforts or have him take the role of Sixth Man to get you extra buckets off the bench.

In the October 8 preseason game against Sacramento, Trent Jr. put forth an efficient showing of 22 points in 21 minutes of playtime off the bench, demonstrating his star can shine bright even in a limited capacity.

Trent is also younger than Anunoby, not to mention it would probably cost the Raptors much less to keep GTJ on the team over Anunoby. When you have other extensions to worry about in Precious Achiuwa and especially Scottie Barnes, Trent Jr. coming back on a team-friendly deal shouldn’t put much hindrance on any future plans.