Wrote two pieces on the cap situation this summer (and planning for next). Really was one piece but editors be editors. Much fuller explanations if you want to go read the full pieces, but I'm pulling a bunch of excerpts that should cover your big picture stuff.
So that is $88.2 million in committed salary for next season to 10 players (including that first round pick). With a salary cap of $109 million, and the minimum salary cap holds that sit on empty roster spots, that means at most, they could have $19 million in cap room, if they let all their free agents walk and want to sign another team’s free agent.
Player | 2021-22 SalaryPascal Siakam
: $33.0MNorman Powell
: $11.6M (Player Option)
Matt Thomas: $1.8M
Dewan Hernandez: $1.8MOG Anunoby
: $11.6M (cap hold)
Terence Davis: $2.1M (cap hold)Norman Powell
will likely opt out of that final year, if he even comes close to replicating his success from this past year. If he doesn’t, and seems likely to opt in, expect the Raptors to try to move his contract at the deadline. For now, assuming he will opt out is how we’ll approach this.
Now add in the second year of this draft’s first rounder and the first year of the following draft’s first rounder. (I used the 20th pick, assuming the 11th best record, to make sure we capture the likely worst case cap hit.) The Raptors would have the above five players (excluding Powell) and two draft picks locked in for $54.1 million in salary. That’s seven slots, meaning Toronto would also have five empty roster spot cap holds at $900,000 each — so let’s set their total cap commitment at $58.6 million.
With a presumed $109 million cap, that means $50.4 million in room to add additional talent to that group of seven. One of those pieces to add would be the max salary free agent Toronto will want to sign that summer. If it is
Giannis, or someone else with his experience, that max salary is 30 percent of the cap, or $32.7 million.
So, take that as a best estimate right now: the Raptors will have somewhere between $13.1 million and $18.5 million to work with in 2021 before considering this coming fall off-season.
So, for example, if Fred was to earn the biggest contract the Raptors could fit, they could structure it with a dip in year two before rising again thereafter, so that the second year stays at that $18.5 million number. Most contracts either stay flat, or just have raises every year — but teams can be creative if they want to be. For example, a potential five-year VanVleet contract could be structured to look like this:
That makes for an average salary of just under $21 million for VanVleet, with a total compensation of $104 million. It’s also a very competitive offer even if the market for VanVleet is very strong. To compare: a max offer for Fred from another team would be $117 million over 4 years, or an average salary of $29.3 million.
Let’s take a look at Serge Ibaka
, for example. He had a great year off the bench and seems primed to at the very least get a longer term offer of three or four years at the MLE (the Mid-Level Exception: about $10 million average salary). If Ibaka
has a $30 million contract waiting for him, how much would the Raptors need to pay him to get him to agree to a one year deal? A $10 million deal for one year won’t cut it — at 31 years old (as of today; happy birthday big guy!), what if Ibaka gets hurt or drops off this year? Now, given Ibaka’s role, age, and performance, it won’t be as high as $30 million per year — but the price tag is probably $20 million or maybe even higher to get Ibaka signed for just one season. And that assumes no team with cap room is going to throw him a deal for, say, $15 million average salary (or higher) per season in a multi-year contract, which is possible. This would equate to an even higher one-year equivalent — and at a certain point, there no longer exists
a one-year equivalent.
The Raptors, as we discussed yesterday
, will have spent approximately $88.2 million on their first ten players. Then add Fred VanVleet, assuming we use that $20.2 million first-year salary, which brings that total to $108.4 million for 11 players. Right away, the Raptors are only $24 million from the tax line, or maybe as much as $32 million if it stays high. But either way, if the Raptors want to re-sign only one free agent, that means the other three slots to get to the minimum roster size of 14 players would cost $4.9 million against the tax (for luxury tax purposes, all minimum salaries are treated like veteran minimum salaries, which are about $1.6 million now). So that one well-paid player needs to get less than $19 million in that one year to avoid starting the tax repeater clock.
As we established earlier, even in the optimistic assumption that Ibaka only has the MLE waiting for him, that might not be enough to keep him. Perhaps more realistic: the Raptors could offer about $10 million each to Boucher
to get them to stick around for a year, letting Ibaka walk, and the dust settle on the rest of the market.
But, what if the Raptors don’t land their big fish free agent in the summer of 2021? What if even the Raptors’ secondary targets for that cap room go elsewhere?
That’s where having all those expiring contracts comes in handy, as compared to trading players away trying to extract some small amount of value from what remains on their deals.
If they hit the 2021 off-season and discover they’re not going to sign a big name free agent, the Raptors will also be sitting on the Bird Rights for the following players (assuming those that are free agents are re-signed this summer):Kyle LowryNorman Powell
(assuming he opts out of his player option)Marc Gasol
(or Serge if Toronto can afford him)Chris Boucher