The NBA offseason is grinding to a bit of a halt with a depressing list of available names remaining (more on that this weekend). While it’s a little boring for most, the Toronto Raptors’ offseason was always going to be pretty quiet (though recent reports from Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun and Josh Lewenberg of TSN suggest that general manager Masai Ujiri was far more aggressive than the results would indicate).
As a refresher, here’s what’s happened with the Raptors this offseason, and what remains:
Jason Thompson (Non-Bird rights)
Nando De Colo – Staying in Russia – Read More
Lucas Nogueira – 4th-year team option (Oct. 31)
Bruno Caboclo – 4th-year team option (Oct. 31)
Delon Wright – 3rd-year team option (Oct. 31)
Fred VanVleet – 2016-17 guarantee (Jan. 10)
Aug. 8 – Can trade Poeltl, Siakam
Dec. 15 – Can trade Sullinger, VanVleet
Jan. 15 – Can trade DeRozan
*$2.2M bi-annual exception
*Minimum exception (unlimited, up to 20 roster spots)
*Can receive and/or send up to $3.5M in cash
*Rights to DeAndre Daniels and DeeAndre Hulett
What follows are a few notes on the deals that are done and an updated cap sheet.
DeRozan’s Contract Structure
Reports varied on the exact numbers of DeMar DeRozan’s new five-year deal, ranging from $137.5M (Michael Grange of Sportsnet and Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star) to $139M (some U.S. outlets) to $145M (most U.S. outlets). The assumption I was working on was that $137.5M was the base, $139M included “likely” incentives (which count against the cap), and $145M included “unlikely” incentives (which only count for luxury tax, not salary cap purposes).
Well, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (the authority on such things), DeRozan’s cap hit is only $137.5M. It’s still possible that incentives could push it higher, but for our purposes, we’re now going to go with $137.5M for the cap rather than $139M. This also means that the “discount” DeRozan gave the Raptors form his total max is just shy of 10 percent, which is certainly not nothing.
Also notable in DeRozan’s contract structure is that the fifth year is a player option, and that the Raptors opted to max out the first year of the deal and then pay him a set amount each year beyond that. Maxing out the first year made plenty of sense given his salary wouldn’t affect their cap space this year, anyway, and from there they could have tried to maximize money in a certain year (dropping it for next summer and then increasing later, or increasing early to drop it later in the deal). Instead, they went for certainty and an even spread (this is basically the most they could have it be a set annual salary, since they couldn’t push Year 1 any higher). It also means DeRozan will make 28.2 percent of the cap this year and an estimated 27.2 percent next year.
2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20: $27.74M
2020-21: $27.74M (player option)
VanVleet gets $50K
We reported from Las Vegas that the Raptors had agreed to terms with Fred VanVleet on a partially guaranteed multi-year deal, but we didn’t have the amount of the guarantee at the time. Pincus helps us out by reporting that VanVleet’s guarantee is for $50,000 this season and confirming our report that it’s otherwise a two-year deal at the minimum.
As with all non-guaranteed deals, VanVleet’s salary for this season would become fully guaranteed on Jan. 10. The guarantee date for his second year is July 20, giving the Raptors a few weeks of flexibility if he were to last on the roster through this season.
Just as a refresher: Don’t look too much into this signing. The Raptors signed four players to similar training camp/D-League affiliate deals last summer, paying them a total of $150,000. The guarantee is a means of securing the player for camp and possibly also supplementing their D-League salary (if they’re amenable to playing there and clear waivers). A lot can still happen and the team believes VanVleet is an NBA player, so paying what amounts to pocket change to keep him in the organization through camp (and possibly into the Raptors 905 season, at $76K instead of the $26K D-League max) is smart. It also doesn’t affect the team’s cap situation and is very unlikely to have an impact on the luxury tax.
Updated Cap Sheet
Here’s a look at what the Raptors’ cap sheet looks like today:
Note that the Raptors still hold rights on De Colo and Thompson. The rights to De Colo may wind up useless since he’s on a multi-year deal in Moscow, but there’s no real cost to keeping him on the books now that they’re above the cap, anyway. Thompson’s rights will disappear once he signs elsewhere and also allow the Raptors to give him 20 percent above his minimum to keep him, should they so choose (it seems unlikely given the roster setup right now but who knows).
The Raptors could clear De Colo, Thompson, and VanVleet (other than the $50K) if they needed to, but that probably won’t be necessary.
In terms of adding, the Raptors can safely use their $2.2M bi-annual exception or a veteran minimum, plus hand out some partial guarantees, without pushing to the luxury tax. They are hard-capped at $117.33M for the season, but their only means of getting that high would be a pretty significant trade. Now that they’re above the cap, they can’t just absorb salary, but they can add more salary in a trade. Here’s a look at how much they can take back, courtesy CBAFAQ.com.
|Outgoing salary||Maximum incoming salary|
|$0 to $9.8 million||150% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000|
|$9.8 million to $19.6 million||The outgoing salary plus $5 million|
|$19.6 million and up||125% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000|
Just a quick note because a few people have asked – the Raptors cannot give Kyle Lowry a contract extension. The CBA is quite restrictive of extensions, and you have to have cap space in the current season to extend Lowry’s deal. Not only that, but Lowry doesn’t qualify for an extension (he’s not three years into this contract), and the finances are such that it would have made little fiscal sense for him to sign one at any point. He’s going to be in the DeRozan situation next summer, opting out and looking for a new, long-term deal.
A Look Ahead to 2017
I’ve been asked about how much cap space the Raptors might have for next summer. The truth is it’s too early to tell since this offseason isn’t yet complete, but assuming nothing changes beyond Thompson leaving, here’s what the Raptors’ cap sheet would look like on the first day of free agency next year (leaving out cap holds for their two draft picks, because it’s unclear how rookie salaries will be handled in the next CBA, and it’s not really important right now):
That’s not a lot of wiggle room! Non-Bird rights mean they won’t be able to re-sign Sullinger at market value (like the Biyombo situation), which is fine given the discount they’re getting this year. They can, however, exceed the cap to re-sign Patterson and Lowry, and they can keep them on the books at their cap holds until the rest of the offseason plays out.
As an illustration of another scenario, let’s say VanVleet is cut in camp, the Raptors move on from De Colo’s rights, renounce Sullinger since they probably can’t re-sign him, and decline the options on the Brazilians. Bad news: They’d still have no cap space, and their offseason would once again amount to retaining players, making picks, and making a play with the mid-level exception.
In a scenario where you wanted to retain Lowry and maximize cap space, you’re looking at the moves mentioned above, waiving Powell’s non-guaranteed deal, declining Wright’s option, renouncing Patterson, trading or stashing both picks and…you’d have about $1.5M in cap space, less than any exception they’d have for staying above it. In other words, barring a trade, next offseason might be just as quiet as this one.
It’s worth noting that the league will likely be working under a new CBA at that point, so the rules that govern teams may have changed. And a ton can change with the roster, too. This is just how it looks with really rough projections a year out, since some of you asked.