The Toronto Raptors re-signed Kyle Lowry. This is good. Very good, even. Everyone seems happy. More on that momentarily, but first let’s check in with how this changes things on the ever complicated books.
As with all things CBA related, it is difficult for a non-Deeks, non-Coon layman to be 100 percent certain in what they are writing. I’m generally confident I have a good hold on the important pieces and notes, but there’s always a non-zero chance notes include an imperfect interpretation, or that additional wrinkles (“loopholes,” if you will) are possible. NBA general managers are, with a few exceptions, smarter than me.
But let’s give it a shot, because there are a handful of ways the Raptors can still add to the players under contract. Let’s start with them.
Marcus Camby – Camby is still on the books for $646,609 this season.
Kyle Lowry – While it’s possible, perhaps even likely that Lowry’s deal is structured with a lower starting salary that escalates over the life of the contract, we will assume he is earning $12 million in each of his four seasons.
Under guaranteed contract
Lowry – $12M
DeMar DeRozan – $9.5M
Amir Johnson – $7M (technically only $5M of this is guaranteed, but I’m unclear when the guarantee date is)
Landry Fields – $6.25M
Chuck Hayes – $5.96M
Lou Williams – $5.45M
Steve Novak – $3.46M
Jonas Valanciunas – $3.68M
Tyler Hansbrough – $3.33M
Terrence Ross – $2.79M
Under non-guaranteed contract
Julyan Stone – $948,163 if on roster past July 7
Dwight Buycks – $816,482 if on roster past July 22
Bruno Caboclo – $1.22M
Bebe Nogueira – $1.47M
Patrick Patterson – $4.32M ($7.76M if qualifying offer rescinded)
Greivis Vasquez – $3.20M ($5.38M if qualifying offer rescinded)
Nando De Colo – $1.83M ($1.90M is qualifying offer rescinded)
Current Cap Sheet
|Bruno Caboclo||Draft Pick Cap Hold||$1,215,300|
|Bebe Nogueira||Draft Pick Cap Hold||$1,468,900|
|Patrick Patterson||RFA Qualifying Offer||$4,319,474|
|Greivis Vasquez||RFA Qualifying Offer||$3,203,780|
|Nando De Colo||RFA Qualifying Offer||$1,828,750|
Salary cap – $63.2M, Luxury Tax – $77M
What this table shows is that the Raptors have some flexibility left to add pieces, but it’s going to take a bit of creativity and/or signing the RFAs to reasonable deals.
Ways to clear space
*Nogueira’s cap hold would come off the books if he and the team submitted paperwork indicating he will play overseas next season.
*Patterson, Vasquez and De Colo could all sign elsewhere or have their qualifying offers revoked and their rights renounced.
*Stone and Buycks could be waived, with their rights subsequently renounced (if that step is even necessary when you waive a player).
*Officially sign Caboclo at 80 percent of rookie scale (the figure in the table is the rookie scale, but teams can sign players to deals 80-120 percent of that figure).
Max “cap space”
If the Raptors took all of those steps to clear space, they would have $61,265,161 in player salary committed to 11 players (I’m including Caboclo here, but at 100 percent scale). That would leave them with, obviously, almost no cap space ($1.43M after the cap hold for a 12th roster spot at the rookie minimum). If I’m understanding the CBA FAQ correctly, to prevent loopholes the Raptors would effectively have no cap space. That dollar amount still matters for later tax calculations, but even at $1.43M under the cap the Raptors would effectively be left with only exceptions to sign players.
There is little incentive, then, for the Raptors to take all of these steps just to be “under the cap.” Lowry’s deal, the Williams acquisition and the Hansbrough guarantee effectively closed out any relevant cap space.
Do the Raptors have exceptions?
As a non-taxpayer, the Raptors will have the full Mid-Level exception at their disposal (this starts at $5.31M but can be split between players). They also have the $2.08M bi-annual exception at their disposal, plus a $1.22M trade exception that expires on July 10 and a $4.58M trade exception that expires on Dec. 9.
In order to stay below the luxury tax, the Raptors could only use $15.73M in total beyond the 10 players under contract and the Bruno. That’s a good amount for four players. They could conceivably pay Vasquez and Patterson a combined $10.4M, still have the full mid-level, forgo a 15th roster spot and still be under the cap, although precariously close to it. (They could also split the mid-level across two players and have a full 15, or bring Nogueira over – assuming 100 percent of scale – and have $8.96M for Vasquez and Patterson, plus the mid-level.)
If you’re starting to see that this can get complicated, well, yeah. There are a lot of balls in the air right now, and so much of the cap and tax machinations depend on the timing of moves as much as the actual moves that get made. The Raptors have some flexibility, which is obviously a good thing, but they no longer have enough room where Vasquez, Patterson, Nogeuira and a mid-level player are all realistic together, unless the market for the RFAs is significantly less than it would seem early in the moratorium period.
|Bruno Caboclo||100% of Rookie Scale||$1,215,300|
|Bebe Nogueira||100% of Rookie Scale||$1,468,900|
|Greivis Vasquez||RFA deal||$5,000,000|
|Wing Player X||Mid-Level Exception||$5,305,000|
|Big Man Y||Bi-Annual Exception||$2,077,000|
|TAX ROOM||NO CAP SPACE||$1,883,939|
Personally, I think Patterson is more a priority given team needs than Vasquez, but the market for him also sounds like it’s heating up, and Vasquez is an important chip in uniting Brazilian Kevin Durant with American Kevin Durant. Given that Vasquez and Patterson don’t have dissimilar market values, you could easily pencil Patterson into the Vasquez spot and change “Big Man Y” to “Guard Y” or one of Buycks/Stone/De Colo.
Of course, one trade could blow this all up, or the Raptors could lose both Vasquez and Patterson, leaving them to scramble to split the mid-level or use a trade exception to fill out the roster.
It’s important to keep a wider time-frame in mind for any deals, however, as the Raptors have kept things quite tidy moving forward and they’ll surely want to keep that flexibility. Keep in mind that the cap and tax are both expected to climb over the next few seasons, with the 2015-16 cap currently projected at $66.5M and the tax projected at $81M.
|DeMar DeRozan||Contract||$9,500,000||Player Option||$9,500,000|
|Steve Novak||Contract||$3,750,001||UFA||See Ya|
|Bruno Caboclo||Year-2 100%||$1,270,000||Year-3 100%||$1,324,700|
|Lucas Nogueira||Year-2 100%||$1,483,100||Year-3 100%||$1,546,900|
Assorted Thoughts on the Moves Thus Far
I haven’t been very present around RR in the past few weeks, thanks in part to the NBA Draft being a project of mine at work, baseball writing commitments, moving, and so on. I just wanted to get down a few words on the three main moves of the offseason so far.
Bruno – I was, like everyone, shocked on draft night. I had pre-written 70 draft posts for the players that appeared on either Chad Ford’s or DraftExpress’ final mock. I expected some off-board names in the second round, but I did not think we’d get one in the first round. Well, we did, and it’s Bruno.
The more I think on the pick, the more I like it. Not in the sense that I have any clue whether Caboclo’s going to be a good NBA player, but because of what it says about Masai Ujiri and the organization. There were players I liked at No. 20 – K.J. McDaniels will be the one that got away – but none of them were franchise-changers. Caboclo probably isn’t, either, but the Raptors are exactly the type of team that should be swinging for upside with every single move. I’m a proponent of “best talent available” in the draft, and Ujiri took this a step further with “best upside available,” so I can’t really argue.
The franchise is clearly ready to embrace variance as a necessary means of improving the team’s talent level. I can get behind that at a strategic level. At a fan level, this is going to be really fun.
Lou Trill – This was a pretty straight-forward deal. We saw the cap ramifications above, but look at the deals guards have gotten in the market so far – the Raptors took that would-be cap space and turned it into a one-year mid-level exception deal for Lou Williams, something that no longer appears possible on the open market. And they got an intriguing prospect – and terrific hashtag (#BrunoAndBebe) – for agreeing to the swap. This was a smart, low-risk, high-flexibility move that netted a prospect to boot. That’s a win, and if Williams can regain his 2011 form in year two after ACL surgery (not a given), it could be an important one.
KLOE – This is wonderful. I talked about it a bit in the group post, but I’m very, very happy to have Kyle Lowry back with the Raptors, and at a relatively fair price, too. Sure, there are concerns, as always. Lowry could get grumpy again, he could put on weight, his body could break down, he could lose a step and no longer be as effective finding tight spaces or pulling up off a screen. Those are concerns, but they’re going to be concerns with any free agent who is 28 or older and not LeBron James.
In terms of price and term, this is completely fine. For Lowry, he can walk away after three years, at age 31, with plenty of time to chase a ring still. I had actually considered whether a fifth year from Toronto would even be preferable to a three-year deal for Lowry, and the fourth-year option makes perfect sense for that reason. The team now has a three-year window where the downside should be that of a playoff team, and the flexibility on the books is such that there’s still room for improvement.
More importantly, the team has its avatar back for the 2014-15 season. I think that’s very, very important. This is a team that was built on chemistry and synergy, and losing the engine could have been a major loss. He’s also the emotional heart of the team, cheesy as that may sound, and he grew into a role as a leader and an on-court extension of Dwane Casey well. I don’t doubt there will be stumbles or even blow-ups, because guys who care as much as Lowry are going to have those. But that desire to win so badly is this team’s identity, and it’s now in place for at least the start of next season, when only success will ensure it carries forward.
If you’re MLSE, too, you’re ecstatic to have Lowry back. More than any other player during the playoff run, the city and casual fans seemed to embrace Lowry (and it’s really not hard to see why). He’s not a top-flight marketing option or anything, but he’s the player the casual fans who joined on late in the year surely identify as The Guy, and his career path to date fits in really well with the team’s othering marketing campaign. If it’s us against the world, well, it’s been like that for Lowry for a long time, and he just chose to be with us rather than with the greater them. That’s huge.
TL; DR on Lowry: