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Free Agency

Raptors exercise options on Nogueira, Caboclo, and Wright

We’re seeing this thing through.

The Toronto Raptors are seeing the Bruno Caboclo experiment through to the end.

The team announced Sunday that they have exercised their fourth-year option on Caboclo’s rookie scale contract, ensuring he’ll be with the team through the 2017-18 season, barring a trade. The Raptors also exercised that same option on the contract of Lucas Nogueira, as well as the third-year option on Delon Wright’s deal.

The Raptors had until Oct. 31 to exercise these options, and there wasn’t a great deal of doubt that they would do so. With a rising salary cap environment and rookie-scale deals that provide labor at a cheap, fixed cost, the financial benefit of the options is simply too great. All three players represent relatively inexpensive options at the end of the roster, maintaining cap flexibility for elsewhere on the roster. They do come with a cost – the option amounts are well beyond the league minimum, they tie up a roster spot, and it precludes the team from maximizing cap space (through rescinding their rights as free agents) – but it’s fairly rare for teams in the NBA to decline a fourth-year option, and almost unheard of to decline a third-year option.

While Caboclo is still a ways away from contributing at the NBA level in any meaningful way, the organization remains encouraged by his progress, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. The development plan for the No. 20 selection in the 2014 draft was always a long-term one, and any disagreement with the option being picked up would have to be directed at the draft strategy itself, not anything Caboclo’s shown in two years that have essentially been a red-shirt year and a freshman D-League season. It’s hard to say what Caboclo can or will be, given the nonlinearity of development, but he remains an interesting prospect as a potential 3-and-D combo-forward, if things work out. Caboclo’s option year will pay him $2.45 million, a raise from the $1.59 million he’s making this season.

Nogueira, meanwhile, has locked down the backup center job in his third training camp with the team, assuming his sprained ankle doesn’t linger too long. Acquired in the Lou Williams trade two summers back, Nogueira’s been relegated mostly to sitting at the end of the bench or meandering listlessly through D-League competition he’s mostly proven too advanced for. This past month has been the most consistent Nogueira’s performed during his time with the Raptors, and there’s optimism that he’s finally be ready to contribute. The talent and length is obvious with the 24-year-old, and he seems to be figuring out how to best use those assets within the context of his role. He’ll earn $2.95 million next year, up from $1.92 million this season.

Picking up Wright’s option was an obvious choice, even with Fred VanVleet now on the roster. The No. 20 pick a year ago, Wright is probably ready for backup minutes at the NBA level once healthy, and the third-year option is dirt cheap, even for a third point guard. Wright’s option will see his salary bumped from $1.58 million this year to $1.65 million next, and the Raptors will have until Oct. 31 next year to exercise their fourth-year option on his deal.

Again, none of this should be surprising given the prices involved. Caboclo and Nogueira will now become restricted free agents in 2018, and the Raptors have a little bit more cost certainty. That’s what this move is about, and while the roster looks pretty full moving forward, things change quickly.

Here’s a rough look at how the Raptors’ cap sheet will line up on July 1 this summer, excluding the cap holds for their two first-round picks (because it’s unclear if those scale amounts will be effective for the 2017 draft or not, with changes coming to the CBA). The cap is currently estimated at $103 million.
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