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Raptors extend qualifying offer to Gary Trent Jr. (and, yes, Nando de Colo)

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The Raptors continue to gear up for big off-season, with many moves still to come. First, a bit of paperwork with their chief now-restricted free agent Gary Trent Jr.

Los Angeles Clippers v Toronto Raptors Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

In an unsurprising turn, the Toronto Raptors have extended a qualifying offer to Gary Trent Jr., officially making him a restricted free agent for the coming 2021-22 season. What this means is that the Raptors have the inside track on retaining him. Yes, some other team could offer Trent Jr. a huge contract, but the Raptors could very well match it and keep him for the coming season.

Given that the Raptors traded much-beloved swingman Norman Powell for Trent Jr., who currently tracks as a younger (at 22.5 years of age), similar version of Norm, it makes sense for Toronto to want to keep and develop him in a similar (or greater) way. As you’ll recall, Trent Jr. put up a career-high of 15.3 points in 31.1 minutes across 58 games last season — including 38 starts — with both Toronto and the Portland Trail Blazers. While his shot came and went down the stretch of last season, GTJ did put in 39 percent of his three-pointers last year and was downright heroic at times in his efforts. If nothing else, there’s still time and room for him to grow.

So, barring some massive offer from a yet unknown team, bet on the Raptors matching whatever contract offer comes Trent Jr.’s way for the 2021-22 season.

But wait, we’re not finished: the Raptors also made the qualifying offer to our old, old friend Nando de Colo — an annual tradition around these parts, and also something of a running joke at this point. Still, de Colo, now 34, is now technically a restricted free agent, with Toronto able to match any contract sheet he signs with an NBA team. He hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2013-14 season, but there was buzz back in 2019 that de Colo was interested in returning to the league. Hey, you never know!

Whether or not the Raptors want to actually keep him is immaterial: it costs nothing to extend the qualifying offer and if de Colo does ever decide to return to the NBA, Toronto can, in part, decide his fate. Is he a future Raptor? Doubtful, but he’s not nothing either. At the very least, we’ll check in on this again next off-season.