Trent prepared to help Raptors any way he can |


TORONTO – Gary Trent Jr., doesn’t know what his role will be on the Raptors this season. He doesn’t know if he’ll start or if he’ll lead Toronto’s second unit off the bench.

All he knows is that he’s going to do whatever he can to help the Raptors win.

“Obviously you work to start in the league and start for a team and help the team as much as you can,” Trent said on Monday. “I have no control over that. So whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be.

“I can only control me coming in, working, being a great teammate and contribute to winning. That’s all I can help with. That’s all I can do.”

The six-foot-five swingman averaged 17.4 point, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists over 66 games last season. He made 43.3 per cent of his field-goal attempts and 36.9 per cent of his three-point shots.

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Trent started most of last season, but came off the bench 10 consecutive games in March before missing seven games with right elbow stiffness. He was with the secondary unit in his first two games back, but started for Toronto in its season finale against the Milwaukee Bucks.

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Trent had only two points, two rebounds, and an assist in 17 minutes in Toronto’s 109-105 loss to the Chicago Bulls on April 12 in the one-and-done play-in tournament.

“It’s going to be what it’s going to be. I haven’t heard anything about coming off the bench, starting,” said Trent, noting that he hasn’t been a starter in the Raptors two exhibition games. “Practices, I’ve been with the second unit in everything we’re doing.

“The writing’s on the wall, so we’ll just continue to go, come in, help and help to win as much as I can.”

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New head coach Darko Rajakovic wouldn’t say if Trent will start or lead Toronto’s second unit.

“I see Gary taking a leadership role every time he touches the floor,” said Rajakovic on the hard court at OVO Athletic Centre, the Raptors’ training facility. “My expectations for him starting, not starting, are very high on both ends of the floor.”

Rajakovic said he’s not worried about having any hard conversations with Trent about his role on the team if, or when, that time comes.

“You can look at Hall of Famers, some of those guys were coming off the bench and being amazing players at different parts of the season,” said Rajakovic. “You’ve just got to be ready to go out there and be (a) pro.

“Everything I’ve seen so far from Gary is he’s that guy. He’s a pro.”

The 24-year-old Trent exercised his US$18.56 million player option on June 20 to return to Toronto for this coming season.

Rajakovic, who became the Raptors 10th head coach just seven days before Trent exercised his option, said he would not make any decisions based off of anyone’s contract situation.

“I’m not looking at who’s under contract or not,” he said. “I’m getting ready for a practice, getting ready for film. We have people who are paid to do that job.”

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The Raptors continue their pre-season in Chicago on Tuesday. Trent said he and his teammates are looking forward to a stiffer test than what they faced in a 134-93 victory over Australia’s Cairns Taipans on Sunday.

“Our main focus going into Chicago is just us,” said Trent. “Our game last night we just wanted to make sure we were solid on both ends, offence and defence, and obviously that wasn’t an NBA team, but they were still a good team.

“Now we are going to Chicago and it should be a good road test for the pre-season and get us acclimated for the first game on the 25th.”

Otto Porter Jr. played in a 5-on-5 scrimmage at practice on Monday as he continues his rehabilitation from toe surgery in January. Forward Precious Achiuwa (groin) also practised, while centre Jakob Poeltl was still out with an illness.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2023.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press


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