Raptors trade Norman Powell, keep Kyle Lowry at NBA trade deadline
Published March 25, 2021 at 10:25 pm
The NBA trade deadline has passed, and, while they were still active, the Toronto Raptors didn’t make the move many fans and analysts expected.
On Wednesday (March 24), the Raptors snapped a nine-game losing streak—their longest losing streak over the last five seasons.
After the game, popular rapper and Toronto’s Global Ambassador Drake called Kyle Lowry during his post-game press conference.
The “What’s Next” singer said during the interview he was Lowry’s translator, but many speculated his reason for calling was to wish Lowry goodbye, as many expected the Raptors to ship their longest-tenured player out of town before the league’s deadline on Thursday (March 25) at 3 p.m.
However, that wasn’t the case.
While Toronto did trade Norman Powell—who has been having a breakout season for the Raptors and has been one of the lone bright spots during the team’s recent skid—as well as sharpshooter Matt Thomas, and undrafted guard Terence Davis, they didn’t let their longest-tenured player (affectionately known as North Philly’s finest) go.
The Powell trade was the first of the day for Toronto. Many expected Norm would be gone, as he was on an expiring contract, and many didn’t believe Toronto would have the money to retain him.
Having been playing some of the best basketball of his career in recent weeks, there were plenty of suiters for the guard who plays much bigger than his 6’4” frame.
The Raptors ended up making a deal with the Portland Trailblazers which sends Powell to the West Coast, while Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood will be coming north of the border.
While Trent Jr.—the main focal point of the trade—is also on an expiring contract, he’ll be a more team-friendly, restricted free agent.
Trent Jr. has also been having a career year, averaging 15 points per game and shooting nearly 40 per cent from deep.
Hood has been having a down year—he’s averaging under five points per game and he’s shooting just 36.3 per cent from the field and 29.8 per cent from deep.
However, while Hood is in the first year of a two-year contract, the second year is not guaranteed, and the Raptors could part with him in the offseason, if they don’t end up waiving him before then.
The second and third trades of the day involved sophomore guards Thomas—who joined the team with a decent amount of hype due to his shooting stroke but has largely failed to live up to it—and Davis. Both traded for second-round picks to the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings respectively.
While Davis showed plenty of upside last season during his rookie campaign, when he was signed as an undrafted free agent, he has also been the subject of some controversy—while the team was attempting to finish the 2020 season in the bubble, he was caught on camera wearing a mask with a hole cut out of the front of it, and this offseason he was dealing with legal trouble related to an alleged assault in New York City.
When it was announced Toronto had parted ways with two guards, many began to speculate that the franchise’s greatest player of all time would soon be heading south of the border, but a deal never materialized.
The Raptors were in serious talks with several teams regarding Lowry, but none were willing to give up what Toronto was looking for.
Many thought Lowry would be staying in Florida—where the team has been playing their home games this season—as a member of the Miami Heat, but the Heat were unwilling to give up Tyler Herro, who the Raptors insisted had to be a part of the deal.
While he will remain with the team for the rest of the season, Lowry’s future in Toronto is still very much a question mark—he’s on an expiring deal, and the last contract he signed with the team was for just one year.
While some feel it’s time to let Fred VanVleet, who signed a lucrative deal with the team last offseason, take the reigns of the offense, others aren’t ready to let Lowry go—in part because he has been one of the team’s best and consistent players this season.
At least for the rest of this season, number seven will remain the face of Canada’s lone NBA franchise.
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