The first domino of the trade deadline has fallen for the Toronto Raptors.
According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Norman Powell has been traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for wings Gary Trent, Jr. and Rodney Hood:
The Blazers always made sense for Powell, but it hadn’t been determined what kind of trade package they would be able to put together. Ultimately, Portland is trading future flexibility for winning now by upgrading on Powell over Trent.
How did both teams fare? We grade the trades below:
Grade for the Raptors: B-
The Raptors are clearly betting on Trent’s upside in this trade, but you can’t help feeling like they could have done better.
Gary Trent, a third-year wing who was taken 37th overall in the 2018 draft, emerged as a sharpshooter off the bench for the Blazers in the 2020 Orlando bubble portion of the season. Trent is shooting nearly 40-percent from three on 7.4 attempts per game, a high level for such high volume.
While Trent just turned 22 only a couple of months ago, he is also set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Given that shooting is such a hot commodity in today’s league, it is entirely possible another team could start the bidding high. Trent has been a budding piece and has room to grow, but the fact that he could become much more expensive next season is concerning.
Hood, 28, has a non-guaranteed contract for next season and I would not expect him to be with the team by the time training camp opens in October. The Raptors notably passed on him in the 2014 draft to select Bruno Caboclo with the 20th pick, Hood going three selections later to the Utah Jazz.
While Trent certainly has upside to offer, the fact that the Raptors will owe him a contract at the end of the year to make the deal worthwhile is tough to gauge. With Portland reportedly dangling Zach Collins, I’m a little surprised Bobby Webster didn’t go in that direction.
I would have preferred a package centered around picks for Powell to maintain future flexibility, but a move like this signals the Raptors may be looking to compete as soon as next year. They do get an asset back for Powell that could be very valuable down the line, and I trust the Raptors’ development program to make it work.
Grade for the Blazers: B-
While Portland does solve an issue of wing depth and playmaking behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, I don’t believe this move takes them over the top, and they will also be at crossroads this off-season.
Powell is very likely opting out of his player option and becoming a free agent in the summer, and it is expected he will command between 16 and 20 million dollars annually. Portland will have to decide whether they want to push themselves further into the tax to retain Powell, or lose the asset for nothing. It will be a hefty price to pay for the Blazers, and to go that far into the tax for a team that is still a few notches behind other West contenders is a risk.
The Blazers clearly indicate they aren’t interested in paying Trent whatever he will command this off-season, and by trading him and Hood now for Powell, they get immediate upside but one that could pay down the line either in money or by losing a valuable asset.
Add to that, in our player spotlight of Powell, we highlighted that he works best as a starter. Norm currently slots in as Portland’s sixth man, meaning he is likely coming off the bench again. One thing to watch is if Powell reverts to the play we saw, where he is forcing and unable to create for others as the lead playmaker.
Overall, it’s a good, but not great trade for either team; Portland may be choosing to go all in on an area they really didn’t need help, and the Raptors are going for a smaller retool rather than a larger-scale rebuild. The outcome of this trade will be told in the future when the Raptors and Trent settle on a contract, and what happens to Powell in the off-season.