With the NBA trade deadline less than a week away, the Toronto Raptors look likely to trade away shooting guard Norman Powell.
The 2020-21 season has been difficult for the Toronto Raptors, with the team forced to play in Tampa and struggling to a 17-24 record after a seven-game losing streak, with the need to make some changes becoming ever more apparent.
The Raptors’ starters are largely unchanged from the 2019 NBA Championship-winning roster, and some fine-tuning and additions, both in trades and through the draft, will likely be the target for the team to get back to winning ways beyond this season.
With so many possible options to consider, one player appears to be very close to leaving the team he has played his entire professional career with once Thursday’s trade deadline rolls around.
Norman Powell, who was originally a second round (46th overall) pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2015 Draft before heading to Toronto in the Greivis Vásquez trade, appears likely to be leaving the 6ix when all is said and done.
According to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, via Sports Illustrated, the 27-year-old shooting guard is all but certain to be dealt away by the team, with plenty of playoff contenders expected to be interested in his offensive prowess.
Prior to winning the NBA title, Powell was a role player for the Raptors but has grown into a dominant points producer over the past two seasons – currently sitting third on the Raptors in points per game (19.6).
He is currently having a career year with the struggling Raptors, with highs in average three-points (2.9), three-points percentage (.448), free throws (3.4), free throws percentage (.870) and assists average (1.8).
Powell has a player option on his contract, which currently has one remaining year left, which would see him hit free agency and command a significant pay rise based on his performances over the past two years.
The Raptors, who already have their big names in Fred VanFleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby locked up long-term, cannot afford to pay Powell the kind of money he will likely demand in the off-season, so parting ways with him and recouping assets in return appears to be the logical move to make.
Championship contenders are likely to be able to offer plenty that would interest the Raptors, including players that can play an immediate, and longer-term, role on the team as well as draft picks – allowing the Raptors to retool and build up the roster ahead of the 2021-22 season.
Losing a player of Powell’s skill set would be disappointing for the Toronto Raptors, but the likelihood is that he will not be with the team beyond this season anyway and ensuring he does not walk for nothing is the right decision.
The core of the team remains, and Nick Nurse has proven he can work with a range of players and with some new faces coming in either to finish this year, or for next year after the draft, it could be a refresh the Raptors need to get back to their competitive ways.