With free agency officially open, the Toronto Raptors wasted no time getting Gary Trent Jr. signed to a new deal.
After the tough news of Kyle Lowry’s departure, the Toronto Raptors made sure to get some business done to open free agency reportedly signing Gary Trent Jr. to a three-year, $54 million deal.
The Raptors added Trent Jr. at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Norman Powell to the Portland Trail Blazers. It didn’t take long for the 22-year-old to become a great fit in the Raptors lineup and should see an increased role going into next season.
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In 17 games with Toronto, Trent Jr. averaged 16.2 points and will look to improve on the 35.5 per cent he shot from 3-point range. He showed off his potential by establishing a career-high 31 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder before smashing that with a 44-point night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It’s a period of transition for Toronto and could look to add some veteran leadership in free agency or by trade.
The Raptors will now move forward with a core of Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Trent Jr. and Scottie Barnes. There will likely be some growing pains with a young group but a chance for some exciting basketball to be played.
Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes acclimating himself with the city
Despite the disappointment among some Raptors fans who wanted the team to draft Jalen Suggs, it hasn’t taken long for Scottie Barnes to win over the hearts of Raptors fans.
Barnes made his way to Toronto and has been spotted by fans with Dalano Banton who was born and raised in the city. He apparently still has his draft hat on which made it easy for fans to recognize him on the street and has embraced the celebrity status.
Another development that has come out since the draft is the work Barnes has put in to improve his shot, according to Sports Illustrated. This was one concern many had about Barnes’ game but one thing that has been made clear is that he is working hard to fix it.
According to his trainer Packie Turner, he is trying to work on generating more power from his legs.
"“He knows it and he’s been aggressive attacking it,” Turner said to SI’s Aaron Rose. “Any kind of number I give him in a drill, ‘hey you have to go seven out of 10, you’ve got to get eight out of 10, you’ve got to make 10 in a row before we move.’ Sometimes we’d do that. Sometimes it’d be ‘hey, you need swishes to move,’ just to change it.“He’d never back down. It was never like, ‘alright you’ve been out here a while we’ll just move on.’ He was like no, we’re here and we’re doing it.”"
There is still work to be done for Barnes to get his shot at an NBA level but you have to admire the amount of time he’s putting in to improve it in whatever way he can. The Raptors will also be helpful in this department considering how they have seen improvements in Anunoby and Siakam since they were drafted.
Do you like the deal Trent Jr. signed with the Raptors? How do you see this core emerging going forward? Let us know in the comments below.