Winners, With Caveats
This team could follow a number of different paths over the next two years or so, but they've found a ruthless negotiator in Masai Ujiri to guide them. Ujiri somehow dumped Andrea Bargnani on the Knicks in return for three draft picks and only one player on a guaranteed multiyear contract (Steve Novak), a move that at least creates the possibility of the Raps clearing max-level cap space as early as next summer.
They'd have to part with Rudy Gay to get there, and Gay has a $19.3 million player option for 2014-15. Gay is still in his prime, and when they traded for him the Raptors privately indicated they expected Gay to opt out and secure a longer-term deal. Kyle Lowry will also be a free agent next summer, putting Toronto in a unique position in which they could compete for a playoff spot this season and then bottom out in 2014-15.
Of course, this season is the best time in a decade to bottom out, and the Raps might be able to engineer that path with a few midseason trades. Everything's on the table, and the Bargnani trade was a nice start.
I find that blurb about Gay interesting.. I wonder if the Raptors have had private talks with Gay about opting out so that they can resign him to a longer term deal. That would also mean that the Raptors would have no intention of trading him this season.