Amit Mann is joined by Yahoo Sports Sr. NBA Writer Jake Fischer to assess the likelihood Gary Trent Jr. is dealt by the NBA trade deadline. The full episode can be listened to on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
AMIT MANN: Gary Trent Jr., though, is a bit of a different story. What are you gathering from him?
JAKE FISCHER: I mean, across the board, whoever I've spoken to the last two weeks, the consistent answer has been that Gary Trent is the most likely trade candidate. And someone I spoke to in a front office, an assistant general manager, on the East-- in the Eastern Conference was pretty much confident that-- not just that they'll listen, but the Raptors will actively look to move him. That was one guy's opinion.
But I think it's very, very similar to the Norman Powell trade that, ironically, brought Gary Trent in the door in that-- look, there was someone who wasn't exactly the Raptors' best player, but definite starter level. There will be definite interest in him on the free-agent market and that everyone's looking for two-way wings. Gary Trent certainly is one of those.
Not exactly the most consistent offensive threat, not exactly the most consistent shooter, not exactly the most consistent guy who can get to the rim and finish, but he has that potency, and he has that potential. And when he's on--
AMIT MANN: 23 right? 23. Lots of time.
JAKE FISCHER: When he's on, he's on. So I think-- yeah, he is young. So, unfortunately, the business side of the game-- like, he definitely wants a significant pay bump from that $18 million, which people were considering at the time and a little bit of a steep amount. So I'm not so certain that the Raptors see his next price tag as something they're willing to pay, and I think-- I don't know what they'll be looking to acquire back for him, but I am expecting that if they do take a step towards [INAUDIBLE], which at this point in time seems, you know, more likely than not, he's the first name they'll look to move.
Even though he probably would bring back the lowest value of all these guys we're talking about, he is the easiest salary number to move, and any team that would like to acquire him, which-- two teams I've heard have been New York and Phoenix. I don't know how strong that interest is, but those are just two teams I've been told to look out for.
I mean, if a team wants to get him this summer, now is the time to go splurge and get him so you already have opportunities to re-sign him via Bird rights.
AMIT MANN: What's interesting about the Raptors is that you have Scottie Barnes, who has been emerging lately. They have him as a screener, as a middle-of-the-floor playmaker, and he's been thriving. And so he hasn't had the best season, not similar to, you know, his rookie year. Sophomore slumps have been a factor. Teams are guarding him differently.
But now, look at him now, and some of his numbers have been terrific. And he's been put in a position to be, you know, the player that he wants to be, right? That may not be the person who's at the top of the floor, but he's able to come off screens, and he's making decisions quickly. And so you want to tap into that. You want him to learn and continue to grow.
And then you have Pascal Siakam, All-NBA player. You know, top 10, top 15, whatever you want to say, but he is that kind of player. And going forward, like, you're trying to build out a roster that is going to be able to contend. And between Fred and Gary, if you have OG, too-- and, mind you, all these players that I'm talking about-- Scottie, Pascal, and OG-- they're under contract next season, for 2023-2024, but the following year, they're all going to be-- something could be happening after that.
You know, I think Scottie is up for a rookie extension. OG has a player option for 2024 or 2025. He's going to opt out. Then Pascal Siakam is going to be UFA. So they're all going to be here next season, I would think, you know, assuming that they're not traded.
And if that's your two, three, and four positions, what are you going to be doing with the five, and who is going to be your point guard? And those pieces are very important. You know, within vision 6/9, if you look at those three players, obviously, defensive potential, ability to run the floor, ability to make some shots, right? Especially with OG Anunoby. But you're lacking shooting, and you're lacking size.
And Christian Koloko-- I mean, I talked to him last week, actually, and it was a terrific chat. But one of the things I said to him was like, man, I see you after every single practice. You have, like, 10 coaches working with you. Because the Raptors know that they need a rim protector. And, hey, if-- why go get a rim protector if we have one at home?
And it'd obviously be a lot cheaper if they're able to plug him into that center position and make him their starting center. And also, you still have Precious Achiuwa, who could be, like, your small-ball center. You have a few more options after that.
But that point guard position, or that fifth starter, is really important because the Raptors are lacking things. And, you know, Fred hasn't had the best season, at least from his standards, but he is still a valuable member of the starting lineup. And you mentioned floor general, just being a heady player, you can see why he could be a fit. It just hasn't gone, you know, the way you want it to go this season.
I have kicked around the idea, like, what if they decided to keep Gary Trent and they did move Fred and how that worked? But then you are pigeonholing yourself a little bit to having Scottie or Pascal as your five. And that's still-- you're not solving the rim-protection issue. So some things they obviously have to figure out.
And, you know, I don't think the Raptors have to rebuild their team because there's too much talent here. That's why we're talking about these players that other teams want. But there does need to be a bit of a retool and how they're going to be going forward. And I think that's what's intriguing about this deadline is that the Raptors could, you know, decide some of these things before next season.
Who knows? Maybe this season, they're able to figure some things out. They're getting to play-in. I still think, you know, play-in experience is good for Scottie Barnes, especially if he's going to be in this role. And last season, you know, he got hurt in game 1, and that was it. And then he came back in game 6 or something, like, game 6 or 7, and he just wasn't the same player. So that is valuable experience for someone that you're looking as a franchise player going--