Norm Powell is going from North to Northwest. The Blazers acquired Powell from the Raptors in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood on Thursday, according to ESPN. Powell, 27, is averaging a career-best 19.6 points per game this season, while shooting 43.9% from three. Trent, a 22-year-old former second-round pick, is averaging 15.0 points per game and shooting 39.7% from three in just his third season. Hood, 28, is a career 11.7 points per game scorer and is headed to his fourth team. Let’s grade the deal for both sides.
It took me a while to see the vision on this move, and I find it to be pretty solid, nothing more, nothing less. Powell and Trent are both very capable players. Powell has a little bit more variance to his offensive game, though he may be a touch less effective defensively. That variance will be put to use, because Powell is going to be gifted many open looks and lesser defenders thanks to all the attention commanded by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Though I would have preferred Trent’s slight size advantage on the wing, Powell is still capable on that end of the floor, and he will have to be to guard some of the explosive wings in the conference.
Powell is expected to decline his player option and become a free agent this summer, which means the Blazers will have to pony up to keep him around. Maybe Portland expects the bidding to be more fierce for Trent Jr., but if they end up making around the same amount of money—or Powell somehow gets more—wouldn’t the Blazers have rather had the younger guy? And while Hood has struggled this season and hasn’t necessarily been a gamechanger in his career, he did swing a playoff game for the Blazers two years ago. That means Portland’s depth takes a small hit here as well. Portland probably gets a little closer to a Finals run with this move. How much closer PDX gets at the cost of trading away a 22-year-old whose free agency will be restricted is where I hesitate a tiny bit.
I actually like this move a little bit more for Toronto. Trent Jr. still has plenty of time to improve as a player, and he won’t be asked to do much more for the Raptors alongside Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam than he was in Portland. Provided his bidding doesn’t get too out of hand this summer, Toronto could end up having Trent through his next two contracts and the entirety of his prime. He’ll also be the kind of player who will always have value around the league. And if things do get chaotic this summer, the Raptors can either match any offer sheets for Trent Jr. or maybe seek out a sign-and-trade. Powell is a very, very good player. Still, as the Raptors reshuffle the deck and get ready for their post-title era to take shape, Trent Jr. could be a useful piece to have around for years to come.