Norman Powell’s days as a Toronto Raptor appear to be numbered.
At some point before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, it’s “close to inevitable” the Raptors will trade the 27-year-old Powell, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange told Bob McCowan on The Bob McCowan Podcast.
Powell has become one of the NBA’s premier shooters over the past two seasons and he’s taken his offensive firepower to the next level this year. Since stepping into the Raptors starting lineup on January 22, Powell is averaging a team-high 24 points per game while shooting 53.1% from the floor and 46.4% from behind the arc. On the offensive side of the ball, he’s the kind of difference-maker playoff teams are looking around this time of year.
For the Raptors, it would be tough to see Powell go. Even as he heads for free agency this summer, Toronto would be giving away his Bird Rights and essentially giving up a golden opportunity to re-sign him going forward.
On one hand, the Raptors are certainly in desperate need of someone with Powell’s offensive explosiveness. However, the team already has Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby locked up long-term, and signing Powell to a multi-year contract with an average annual value of approximately $20 million per season would lock up a sizeable portion of Toronto’s cap space into a group that hasn’t proven to be title contenders without another superstar. And while Powell can certainly pack a punch offensively, he’s a mediocre defensive player who is somewhat mistake prone. That’s something that can really frustrate Raptors coach Nick Nurse.
“I’m more concerned with playing winning basketball, playing both ends, making the right play,” said Nurse when asked about Powell’s ability mesh offensively with Siakam, VanVleet, and Anunoby returning from COVID-19 protocols. “I think Norm’s had the capability to score, I’ve known that for a long time. I didn’t need to see him score 40, 30, 40, 30, I’ve known that for a long time.”
Losing Powell would certainly cost Toronto this season, but if it brings back an intriguing prospect and a pick, it’s certainly something the Raptors front office should consider.