It was recently reported that Gary Trent Jr turned down a contract extension offer from the Portland Trail Blazers. Before anyone panics at the thought of losing Trent after this season let’s take a look at what this means for the Blazers to keep their blossoming 3 & D guard moving forward.
What was the offer that was turned down?
The most the Blazers could offer Trent this off-season in an extension is a contract with a total value of $53.76 million over 4 years. If we assume that the Blazers did indeed offer the maximum amount allowed that means that in the 2021-22 season Trent is gambling that he will play well enough to get free agent offers for more than $12 million per year. If he continues to shoot the three pointer at a 40% clip while playing defense at a rate that was much improved in the bubble then that risk for Trent will likely pay off with some offers much better than that. Joe Harris earned a 4 year deal for a total of $72 million this year and he has nowhere near the defensive upside that Trent could provide.
Can the Blazers afford to keep him?
The Blazers have two things going for them if they wish to retain Gary Trent Jr after this season. The first thing is that Trent will be a Restricted Free Agent. This means that the Blazers will have the rights to match any contract offer that Trent agrees to with another team. This is what happened with Allen Crabbe back in 2016 when he was offered a rather substantial contract by the Brooklyn Nets and Portland decided to match that offer. The second thing is that the Blazers will have Trent’s Full Bird Rights. When you have Full Bird Rights you can go over the salary cap to re-sign your free agent without having to use an exception or needing to be below the cap. With the ability to both go over the cap and match any offers from other teams if the Blazers want Trent on the team moving forward it is very likely he will be.
The question becomes with Dame and CJ already under contract for multiple years, how much will they be willing to pay for a backup guard? It appears that the Blazers will avoid being a luxury tax paying team this season. It’s likely they are being fiscally responsible this year knowing that next year if they want to keep assets like Trent that they’ll have to go back into the tax. If that is the case, then they’d be fine offering or matching just about any contract for him. If there is a limit to what they’re willing to pay Trent and he plays like he will earn more than that number then they may be better off trading him by the deadline so that they don’t lose him for nothing.
Will Trent be Re-signed?
If I had to guess, I believe Trent will be re-signed for somewhere in the $12-$18 million range. Other teams know that he’s a Restricted Free Agent so they either have to severely overpay to get Portland to think twice about matching or often times shy away from Restricted Free Agents because it’s apparent their current team will just match making it not worth their time and effort. Unless something drastic happens between now and the end of the season, expect Gary Trent Jr to be a part of the rotation for the Blazers for several years.