Morning Coffee – Thu, Jun 22

Celtics commit highway robbery and tool up | Cap implications | Darko in the spotlight | Tannenbaum takes billions off the table

Could Raptors be active in trades atop NBA draft board? | The Star

If they are intent on moving up, and even if they have their eyes on someone other than Henderson, the possibilities go beyond Portland at No. 3 or Charlotte at No. 2.

But it seems increasingly likely the Raptors will bring back much of the same team form last year’s 41-41 squad and treat that odd season as an aberration that can be corrected with a new coach (Darko Rajakovic) and more mature players (Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, Christian Koloko).

And if Masai Ujiri thinks a starting lineup of Fred VanVleet on a new deal, Barnes, O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl on a new deal — with a bench anchored by Gary Trent Jr., Achiuwa, Chris Boucher and Koloko — is OK, why wouldn’t the team president tweak on the periphery with a minor trade and/or a mid-level cap exception signing and just go ahead and draft the player he thinks is best at No. 13.

The possibility of re-signing both VanVleet and Poeltl got a boost Wednesday when it was reported the luxury tax threshold for next season will be about $165 million (U.S.), up from original estimates of about $162 million. That difference makes it more likely that Toronto can bring both players back and not flirt with having to cross that tax limit.

Returning with much the same team is both possible and defensible for Ujiri to sell to an impatient fan base. It would make draft night boring in Toronto but it’s been boring for the entirety of Ujiri’s tenure with the Raptors. Why would it change now, especially when there is not a true immediate franchise-changer out there besides the unattainable Wembanyama?

Henderson is intriguing and so is Miller but neither is really seen as someone who can immediately turn a team into a contender.

Are they worth the cost of an all-star and all-NBA talent like Siakam? Are they worth an all-defensive team member and 39 per cent three-point shooter like the 25-year-old Anunoby?

Raptors Draft Watch: Can Cason Wallace help revive the Raptors defense? – Raptors HQ

I’m going to name-drop some players again, so indulge me here. Lu Dort. OG Anunoby. Malcolm Brogdon. Jerami Grant. Mikal Bridges. Marcus Smart. Bam Adebayo. Jrue Holiday. Jimmy Butler. Kawhi Leonard. Most of these players entered the NBA known more for their defensive potential than their offense. Their ceiling levelled up once their offensive skill set got unlocked.

For a prospect with excellent defensive instincts paired with the effort he’s shown as an on-ball/off-ball and help defender, I see Wallace as a potential upside pick that doesn’t have to be a complete project. His offense is limited right now, but he doesn’t have anything offensively that’s not correctable.

Wallace’s strong, compact frame, length, and good hip mobility allow him to be switchable from 1-3 defensively, and his defensive instincts allow him to freestyle and help create defensive stops. Even while retreating, his active hands and excellent footwork complements his lateral quickness, allowing him to be a good defender without having to go for the home run steals. I can’t help but be excited about how his defense would look when he adds the systematic and analytic approach and the scouting report to enhance what he can on the defensive end.

Wallace should be able to provide combo guard utility to whichever team would draft him, as he can run the offense, execute pick-and-roll plays, occasionally do advantage creation, and he takes care of the ball well. He should slot in as a 3+D option right now, as he looks comfortable in catch-and-shoot situations and hunts for them around the perimeter with his sneaky active relocation.

Overall, what I really like about Wallace is that he makes winning plays on both ends of the floor. His hustle, effort, and not giving up on a play, along with his unselfish game and willingness to make the simple yet right play are some traits that you would want on your team. Watching him play, sometimes he also gives off some shades of Kyle Lowry.

Luxury Tax Increase Creates Extra Room For Raptors – Sports Illustrated

With Gary Trent Jr.’s decision to opt into his contract Tuesday, Toronto now has at least $111.1 million in guaranteed salary committed to next season. That leaves them nearly $54 million to spend on re-signing their free agents, primarily Fred VanVleet and Jakob Poeltl, as well as adding the No. 13 pick and filling out the roster.

Multiple reports suggest VanVleet and Poeltl will be looking to make roughly $30 million and $20 million per season on their next contract. It’s possible to do that while remaining under those numbers in the first year of the contract.

For example, VanVleet could sign a three-year, $90 million deal in which the first-year value is $27.8 million, or he could sign a four-year, $120 million contract in which the first year is $26.8 million.

Similarly, Poeltl could sign a three-year, $60 million contract with a first-year value of $18.5 million or a four-year contract worth $80 million with a first-year salary of $17.9 million.

Suppose Toronto signed VanVleet and Poeltl to three-year deals each at $27.8 million and $18.5 million in their 2023-24, respectively. That would eat $46.3 million into the $54 million in space below the luxury tax threshold, giving the Raptors about $7.7 million to fill out the rest of their roster.

The No. 13 pick comes with a $4.5 million cap hold but can be signed for as little as $3 million next season, per Real GM. Minimum salary contracts for Dalano Banton and Jeff Dowtin Jr. would be slightly less than $2 million each and suddenly Toronto is right at the luxury tax threshold without making any free agent additions or signing partially guaranteed players to their training camp roster.

The Raptors would not be able to use the $12.2 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception without going over the luxury tax threshold and even undrafted free-agent signings could prove difficult.

While the increase does give Toronto some much-needed extra space, it’s going to be tight regardless, and considering how the Raptors fared last season, running it back with almost an identical roster doesn’t seem to be the best option moving forward.

Larry Tanenbaum close to selling part of MLSE holdings: report | The Star

While the report says it is unclear how much of Tanenbaum’s stake he is selling and that the deal still needs approval from the NBA and NHL, the $8-billion figure would be a record valuation for the sale of sports teams.

Tanenbaum has been chair of MLSE since 2002 and also holds the title of governor for the Raptors, Maple Leafs and TFC. He became the first Canadian chair of the NBA board of governors when he was elected to the post in 2017.

Tanenbaum set to sell part of MLSE to OMERS: Report | Toronto Sun

Sportico reported MLSE was being valued at $8-billion U.S., a record for the sale of a sports conglomerate. It’s not yet clear how much of his stake Tanenbaum would sell should the deal be approved by the NHL and NBA.

Additionally, Rogers and Bell have a right of first refusal to purchase any shares in MLSE, the report said.

MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, the Toronto Argonauts and the venues they play in. Rogers separately owns the Blue Jays and Rogers Centre. Tanenbaum has recently been involved in unsuccessful bids for soccer giants Manchester United and Chelsea FC.