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Amid defensive struggles, the way forward for the Trent Raptors is doubtful

TORONTO – Gary Trent Jr. clearly is aware of he has some work to do.

After lacking three video games, first with a hip harm after which with an organization-wide sickness, the Raptors guard returned to apply Monday and was among the many final gamers within the health club after Tuesday’s apply.

He might be again within the lineup on Wednesday night time when Toronto hosts the Brooklyn Nets, the league’s most controversial membership and its most polarizing participant, Kyrie Irving. His timing could not have been higher.

Pascal Siakam is out for the ninth straight recreation with an adductor pressure. They hope to have him again subsequent week, however the group should be with out their main scorer and finest participant for no less than just a few video games.

Nevertheless, plainly excellent news is dear nowadays. Though Siakam is lastly nearing his return and Trent, Chris Boucher and Fred VanVleet have all recovered from the flu, the Raptors have added one other notable participant to their rising harm report.

Scotty Barnes did not take part in apply this week, not due to his ankle, however due to a sprained left knee. It is not clear when he suffered the harm, however head coach Nick Nurse would not suppose it is “horribly unhealthy” and the group believes he’ll be in query for the Nets, however they seem like making ready for the gifted sophomore. lose a while.

Along with their two most important creators, Valuable Achiuwa and Otto Porter Jr., who’re coping with ankle and foot issues, the Raptors may also have an offense that depends on Trent.

He cannot create scoring alternatives for others like Siakam and Barnes, however he can hunt his personal shot and knock it down at a excessive price when he is at his finest. That is one thing they might use, contemplating they’ve made simply 28 p.c of their three-point makes an attempt since Siakam slipped within the moist in Dallas earlier this month. The issue is, it has been some time since he was the perfect or someplace.

In Siakam’s absence, Trent shot 35 p.c from the sphere and 19 p.c from lengthy vary. He missed three of the final 9, struggling accidents and finally sickness.

Taking pictures and scoring are big components of Trent’s recreation, however his offense is the least of Nurse’s worries. Acknowledging that Trent’s latest hip ache and a number of different illnesses could also be no less than partly accountable, Nurse believes it is solely a matter of time earlier than these jumpers begin falling.

“We all know he is an excellent shooter and we all know he can rating,” Nurse mentioned. “He simply must really feel good bodily. I believe he is all the time acquired the boldness to make a shot.”

The largest concern for Toronto’s defensive-minded head coach is on the opposite finish of the ground. After Trent signed a brand new three-year, $54 million contract with the Raptors in the summertime of 2021, Nurse urged the younger guard to take all of the vitality he spends on offense and swimsuit up on protection. He rebounded final season and made vital strides as a quarterback.

Given the group’s lineup of lengthy, tall forwards, their smaller defenders stand out. However VanVleet makes up for it along with his intelligence and enjoying greater than his peak, and he is listed unabashedly at 6-foot-1. He is a stable defender who is aware of the place to be when. He all the time performs the angle and has the quickest begin within the league.

Trent is not round a quarterback of that caliber. Even all through final 12 months’s recreation, his effort stage and a spotlight to element dipped at instances, and he continued to be defensive, particularly off the ball. That being mentioned, he was nearly as good as anybody at locking down opposing guards on the perimeter and disrupting the passing lane when he was engaged. He makes up for his 6-foot-9 or 7-foot wingspan along with his exercise and aggressive play on protection.

Trent completed the season tied for fifth with 1.7 steals per recreation and averaged 3.4 turnovers, second on the group, behind VanVleet and fourth within the NBA.

His deflections have dropped to 2.4 per contest this 12 months, however he hasn’t been as energetic or energetic for essentially the most half. Once more, be aware that nurse trauma could also be an element. Nonetheless, he had sturdy phrases on Tuesday concerning the 23-year-old’s defensive slide.

“It is disappointing,” mentioned the nurse. “We would like him to be extra aggressive defensively this 12 months. I will say, I do not know what the phrase is — it was slightly detrimental. He is actually acquired after the ball and has the flexibility to get his palms on the ball so much, and that is what we wish him to do. wish to

“We will hit him and get our factors, however we wish him to be a disruptor. If he does that, he will be an excellent match for us, and if he isn’t, he isn’t going to be an excellent match for us.”

The timing of this nurse problem is attention-grabbing and is probably not coincidental. Trent has the choice to decide out of his contract and turn out to be an unrestricted free agent subsequent summer season, and the expectation is that he’ll do exactly that.

Trent, who simply turned 24 in January, has shot 38 p.c from three over his five-year profession. At worst, he might be an excellent shooter coming off the bench, however he is proven the flexibility to be even higher. With the wage cap persevering with to rise, that determine ought to be sufficient to offset the $18.8 million he is set to surrender subsequent season.

How a lot can he get on the open market? Path Blazers guard Anfernee Simmons’ streak at age 23 might be over. Simons signed a four-year, $100 million contract extension with Trent’s former group, Portland, final summer season. Though his season has continued because it has to this point, it is in all probability a good evaluation for Trent. If he will get wholesome and bounces again from this little hunch and strikes ahead, that may simply be his basis.

The query is whether or not the Raptors are keen to pay, or if VanVleet, Achiuwa, Siakam, O.G. Ought to Anunabi — and in the end Barnes — find yourself getting costly new offers within the coming years — determine he isn’t a long-term match at that price. If Nurse, group president Masai Ujiri and normal supervisor Bobby Webster lastly come to that conclusion, it is likely to be price attempting to get an asset or two out of Trent earlier than Feb. 9 as an alternative of dropping him for nothing. in July.

They don’t seem to be there but, for what it is price. Final summer season, the Raptors advised groups they noticed Trent as a beneficial a part of their younger core. It is laborious to think about that altering a couple of month into the marketing campaign.

Nevertheless, the following few weeks might be an necessary analysis interval for each participant and group to find out whether or not they have a future collectively past this season.

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