Shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. says he’s grateful for the opportunity to earn an expanded role with the Raptors, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Trent is averaging a career-high 18.5 points per night and boasts solid shooting splits (.438/.360/.831, including a .572 true shooting percentage).
“It’s just a lot of things, factors of being consistent in the NBA,” Trent said. “It’s your role, your opportunity, your coach’s trust. Do they believe in you? Do they run plays for you? Do they put you in certain positions to succeed. Just different type of things. Coach (Nick) Nurse and his team has been there for me. They’ve helped me. Gave me a platform and opportunity of a lifetime.”
Multiple reports over the past month have indicated that Trent is likely to be on the trading block, primarily because he’s expected to turn down his $18.8MM player option for next season to become a free agent. The 24-year-old is aware of the rumors, but he’s no stranger to hearing his name pop up in trade speculation and plans to keep working hard.
“I’ve been in trade rumors since I came into the league,” Trent said, per Hine. “With my contract and my situation, it’s almost complimentary to get off the books or to help a team or roster. But you can’t really focus on that. It is what it is. You continue to work. Somebody’s going to want you. Everybody is watching you, seeing how you work.”
Here’s more on the Raptors:
- Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca recently released his in-depth trade deadline primer, including the team’s cap outlook for this season and beyond, player and non-player assets, and more. Murphy suggests the team might “prioritize young, rotation-ready players” rather than draft picks if they deal away Trent or Fred VanVleet, as that would allow Toronto to be more competitive next season.
- Doug Smith of The Toronto Star spoke to multiple league sources who ranked the team’s most valuable player assets, in order of their value. OG Anunoby tops the list, followed by VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Trent. I can sort of see having Anunoby over Siakam because he makes about half as much money and theoretically might be an easier fit on most teams, but having VanVleet over Siakam is…interesting. I assume Scottie Barnes isn’t included because he isn’t expected to be available.
- Along those same lines, Eric Koreen of The Athletic breaks the players down into tiers, with Barnes in his own “almost untouchable” category. Anunoby and Siakam are in the “we’d rather not, but give us your best offer and we’ll think about it” tier, while Koreen thinks one of Trent or VanVleet will probably get traded.
- At 20-26 and 1.5 games back of the Bulls for the No. 10 seed and the final spot in the play-in tournament, the Raptors don’t have the luxury of resting their best players, argues Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. Nurse has been criticized at times for playing the starters heavy minutes, but Feschuk notes that group has been pretty healthy this season.
- VanVleet is another player who hears the rumors swirling, Smith writes in another article for The Toronto Star. “The better you play and the better your team does, the lower the chance anybody getting shipped out of here,” VanVleet said. “If you (crap) the bed you set yourself up for anything to happen. So we’ve got to control the controllables.” As Smith notes, the Raptors have been wildly inconsistent this season, and have yet to “control the controllables,” as VanVleet put it, for a sustained period.