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Free Agency

July 1 Free Agency Open Thread: VanVleet is back, LeBron signs with Lakers

Get that money, Fred.

The NBA got ahead of the start of free agency on Saturday by providing us with salary cap information ahead of the July 6 lifting of the moratorium. And hey, there’s a modicum of good news for the Toronto Raptors ahead of a summer where they’ll be quite strapped for cash: The cap came in higher than expected.

The salary cap for the 2018-19 season has been set at $101,869,000, nearly a million dollars higher than the original projection. There is a corresponding bump in the luxury tax line, too, at $123,733,000, as well as the luxury tax apron at $129,817,000. None of these are massive bumps, but considering the Raptors are already into the tax with just 11 players on guaranteed contracts and with Fred VanVleet sitting out there as a restricted free agent who could command $8.64 million in Year One of a new deal, every penny – or $700,000 worth of them – makes a big difference, especially with the escalating luxury tax penalties the deeper you go. (The cap is also now projected higher in 2019-20, when the Raptors could use the extra tax break again, and that makes it project as if they’ll have good flexibility in 2020 and 2021 depending on what they do this summer and next.)

Toronto will still be in tough. They have little flexibility to add without making a major trade of one of their core pieces or dumping a salary for nothing in return, and even if they do that, they figure to only be small free-agency players. VanVleet is their biggest focus, with their three other free agents – Lucas Nogueira, Lorenzo Brown, and Malcolm Miller – likely coming far down the priority list as early-offseason luxuries the Raptors might not want to jump on early. How the next few days and weeks play out should be really interesting and will say a lot about Masai Ujiri’s stomach for aggression after years of fairly savvy but ultimately conservative roster management. It might not end up exciting. It will probably make us all anxious, at least.

For now, consider the open thread a means of discussing all the insanity. It’ll be updated regularly.

RAPTORS MOVES

RESOURCES & REQUIRED READING

If you haven’t yet, go and read my free agency primer, which goes into a lot of the details about the Raptors’ cap situations and what they can and can’t do. I’ve also written a bunch on cap specifics and the offseason in general. Hopefully somewhere within these links is an answer to any question you may have:

As a quick refresher, this is what the Raptors’ cap sheet looks at right this second:

To help calibrate for free agency, here’s a chart containing all of the maximums and exception amounts, based on the new $101,869,000 salary cap (note that for the minimum salaries, those deals can run longer if cap space is used, but they max out at two years if a team is using the minimum player salary exception):

Here are a few other very useful resources:

RAPTORS RUMORS

A reminder: There is a ton of information to sort through this time of year. Some of it will be legitimate, some of it will be misinformation. Always consider the source, their track record, and why a player/agent/team may want information out in the world.

Sunday

  • 8:08pm: Again, not Raptors related, but LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker. That makes the Eastern Conference look wide open, and would certainly suggest the Raptors should continue competing, as they appear set to do. Wow. This is wild.
  • 6:25pm: What a surprisingly quiet afternoon after the chaotic start.
  • 1:10pm: John Tavares signed with the Leafs. I wonder if this impacts Raptors’ coverage in the main Canadian media outlets at all…
  • 12:25pm: I updated some of the Raptors’ cap stuff over at The Athletic and explained what the jump in the salary cap and luxury tax could mean for the Raptors now and moving forward.
  • 11:45am: This isn’t Raptors-related but it’s tangentially related, so, uhh, the 76ers got a meeting with LeBron James’ people today, per Woj. That’s certainly interesting.
  • 10:35am: Fred VanVleet has re-signed with the Raptors on a two-year, $18-million deal.
  • 8am: Nothing happened over night. Like, seriously, nothing. My news-breaker column didn’t move in the 4.5 hours of sleep I decided to grab (don’t worry, I had alarms set every 90 minutes just in case). This afternoon should pick up.
  • 2:20am: Gery Woelfel reports that the Raptors were among the teams that expressed interest in Ersan Ilyaosva before he landed back in Milwaukee. This isn’t all that surprising given that Ilyaosva was identified as a potential buyout target, too, and would add shooting and toughness in the frontcourt. The Raptors really couldn’t top the $7M per-year he received from Milwaukee, where he’s maintained a home even after leaving the Bucks. Toronto will probably make a calls on a number of players in this tier, gauging their interest at the non-taxpayer mid-level or even minimum amounts.
  • 2:15am: None of the news-breakers have tweeted in a while. Get some sleep.
  • 12:45am: The Suns signing Ariza to a 1/15M deal takes one of the biggest potential VanVleet suitors out of the race, or at least out of the cap space to sign VanVleet to any kind of deal Toronto couldn’t comfortably match. It’s a tough break for VanVleet’s market but a positive for the Raptors, who may now have more leverage in trying to get VanVleet signed long-term at below the full mid-level amount.

Pre-midnight

  • It doesn’t really require re-reporting at this point, but it’s an open secret that everything is on the table for the Toronto Raptors. That might mean prospects and picks are available, it likely means Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell are widely available, it could mean Jonas Valanciunas is on the market again, and, hard though it may be to see playing out, it means Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are no longer untouchable. This isn’t noise or speculation. The Raptors are evaluating every means of getting better this summer. That doesn’t mean trading a star or unloading a salary is necessarily likely, just that nothing has been ruled out.
  • Phoenix is considered to be the primary threat to pluck Fred VanVleet away. Not only do they have the money to throw a back-loaded Arenas Provision deal at VanVleet that could be tough for the Raptors to stomach matching, he would fit in really well with where they are on the building curve and what type of player and leader they need as they try to re-establish some semblance of a coherent path forward. VanVleet should have other suitors, too – I’d be surprised if Orlando doesn’t call, and if Charlotte is going to move Kemba Walker, he’d make some sense – but the Raptors will also likely try to give him an offer early on that precludes him from even testing the offer sheet route.

REPORTED AGREEMENTS/CLOSE – SUNDAY

The following deals have either been reported as done or in the finalization stages. Until noon on July 6, nothing is absolutely locked in (remember DeAndre Jordan?), but if it’s on this list, it’s done per a reporter on the trusted list.

Re-sign

  • Chris Paul, Rockets, 4 years, $160M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Nikola Jokic, Nuggets, 5 years, $148M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Paul George, Thunder, 4 years (3+PO), $137M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Kevin Durant, Warriors, 2 years (1+PO), $61.5M (Shams Charania)
  • Will Barton, Nuggets, 4 years (3+PO), $54M (Chris Mannix and Chris Haynes)
  • Jerami Grant, Thunder, 3 years (2+PO), $27M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Fred VanVleet, Raptors, 2 years, $18M (Shams Charania)
  • Joe Harris, Nets, 2 years, $16M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Aron Baynes, Celtics, 2 years (1+PO), $11M (Shams Charania)
  • Rudy Gay, Spurs, 1 year, $10M (Shams Charania)
  • Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks, 1 year, $5M (Shams Charania)
  • Derrick Jones Jr., Heat, 2 years, $3.2M (Ira Winderman)
  • Gerald Green, Rockets, 1 year, $2.4M (Mark Berman and Shams Charania)
  • Derrick Rose, Timberwolves, 1 year, $2.4M  (Adrian Wojnarowski and Shames Charania)
  • Luke Kornet, Knicks, 1 year, $1.4M (Marc Berman)

New homes

  • LeBron James, Lakers, 4 years (3+ETO), $153.3M (Klutch Sports)
  • DeAndre Jordan, Mavericks, 1 year, $24M (Marc Stein)
  • Doug McDermott, Pacers, 3 years, $22M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks, 3 years (3rd unguaranteed), $21M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Trevor Ariza, Suns, 1 year, $15M (Shams Charania)
  • Marco Belinelli, Spurs, 2 years, $12M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Glenn Robinson III, Pistons, 2 years (1+TO), $8.3M, (Shams Charania)
  • Ed Davis, Nets, 1 year, $4.4M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Omri Casspi, Grizzlies, 1 year, $2.2M (Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Nik Stauskas, Blazers, 1 year, $1.6M (Chris Haynes)
  • Brad Wanamaker, Celtics, 1 year, $838K (Adrian Wojnarowski)

Trades (only including trades since the draft)

  • To come…

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