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Raptors cap scenarios: How Kyle Lowry’s future could dictate the path taken in free agency – The Athletic

If Lowry is going to stay, the Raptors won’t bother with creating cap space. We can see that even before a new deal for Lowry, there just isn’t much wiggle room:

Assuming the Raptors keep their pick, they’ll have $78.08 million committed to five players, another $32.18 million for seven non-guaranteed deals and $66.3 million in free-agent cap holds.

With the salary cap projected to be $112.41 million, it’s not hard to see why Lowry staying would nudge the Raptors to stay above the cap. Say Lowry signs a two-year, $40-million deal that pays him a flat $20 million for 2021-22, that pushes the Raptors to $98.08 million for six players. The roughly $14 million left under the cap isn’t real cap space, either — accessing that cap space would require waiving all of the non-guaranteed players and renouncing the rights to everyone else. Teams also get charged a minimum roster charge if they dip below 12 players, and the Raptors would have another $5.55 million in artificial cap holds (or their own second-round picks, for two of those spots).

Would you rather do all of that for $14 million in space or, say, retain Boucher and use the $9.54-million mid-level exception to add, instead?

(Note: We’re assuming Rodney Hood and Aron Baynes are waived regardless of scenario. Hood’s deal guarantees before the draft and is too risky to keep on the books without a trade lined up, and Baynes would only be guaranteed on Aug. 4 if there’s a trade that requires his salary for matching money.)

If Lowry stays, you’re effectively choosing between Option A (Boucher, some combination of DeAndre’ Bembry, Yuta Watanabe, Paul Watson Jr. and Freddie Gillespie, low-value rights on Birch and Stanley Johnson and RFA rights on Trent, and the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions) and Option B ($8.8 million in cap space and the room exception). Easy choice, right?

So that’s the first path. If Lowry is back with the Raptors on any reasonable contract possibility, the Raptors are going to operate above the cap so they can retain a few extra players and keep the full mid-level available to them.

(There are some tax implications if they paid Lowry and Trent big money and added via mid-level and/or trade, but we’ll explore that at a later date.)

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