First off ya it's the money without the suppressed cap we would have had, but now Pascal gets the raise AND unless I missed some news on that front we likely have a suppressed cap. So we get 2 whammies.
Secondly, we went through a lot of scenarios for a max free agent where we don't have a "just a few million". It's gotta come out of somebody which primarily means Fred. What's his max we can pay Fred now and still get a max free agent? 19M???
Your partially right though. It has no effect if we aren't going for a max free agent which may be the better plan anyways. We can trade our aging vets for youth picks and expiring contracts and possibly still get someone, not a max, in free agency.
Max we can give Fred is still just above 20M AAV on a 5 year deal. I don’t think the Raptors were eager to be paying him much more than that anyway.
My point is it’s tight because of the suppressed cap (and 2021 may not be that suppressed, I’m using some conservative assumptions here), not so much because of Pascal. Having and paying for good players is always a good thing.