Marc Gasol will extend his stay in Toronto. The team announced that Gasol has exercised his player option and will complete the final year of his five year, $113 million deal that he signed in 2015. The Spanish centre will earn $25.6 million this season.
It is a hefty cap hit for a veteran who is now just a quality role player rather than a franchise cornerstone, however, the Raptors organization was aware of this prospect when trading for him. Gasol could have potentially earned more guaranteed money long-term in free agency, but was certainly not going to sniff an annual salary equal to the $25.6 million that he will now receive this season in Toronto.
The Raptors were likely unwilling to extend a longer term deal with Gasol given how clear their cap sheet is heading into the 2020-21 season once Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka’s combined $56.5 million comes off the books. Once a player has picked up their player option, the team and individual are unable to re-negotiate the contract for that season. Therefore, Gasol’s $25.6 million will remain on the Raptors’ cap sheet unless he is traded.
This news does not affect the Raptors’ ability to offer Kawhi Leonard the full max during free agency. However, if Leonard also signs in Toronto, it will limit the team’s flexibility to bring back unrestricted free agent Danny Green and other pieces. If the Raptors bring Green back on a similar deal they will vault deeply into the luxury tax, yet Masai Ujiri confirmed during the year end press conference that the organization’s goal was to run it back with the same core.