Title: Raptors free agency primer: Cap sheet, assets, exceptions and more
Date: June 24, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote my annual Raptors salary cap and free agency primer, laying out all the details you need to know ahead of the offseason.
The Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions.
Greatness carries a cost. The Raptors owned the third-highest payroll in basketball last year and spent deep into the luxury tax. That’s all worthwhile to secure that Larry O.B., but an all-in push has left the Raptors’ cap sheet for 2019-20 fairly inflexible.
Inflexible doesn’t mean bad, necessarily. If Kawhi Leonard returns, the Raptors will once again be deep into the luxury tax, an area they’ll be happy to live if it means another year of contention. They’ll try to trim that bill within reason, of course, but you don’t make win a title and see the type of surge in audience, gate and merchandise the Raptors saw and then pinch pennies at the more meaningful margins of the roster. If Leonard leaves, the focus may shift some, though the cap sheet won’t exactly open up.
Not even a projected seven-percent jump in the salary cap can help the Raptors here. No matter the scenario, they project as an above-cap team and Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and company will have to work some magic to improve the roster. They’ve been here before. The Raptors haven’t been a below-cap team in years and have found ways to keep trending upward. The work is just a little tougher here, and a little heavier to explain. That’s where this annual free agency primer comes in.
What follows is an explanation of the contract situations and cap rules that the Raptors face right now. This is the sixth year in a row I’ve done this post in the hopes of helping readers understand why certain moves can or can not happen, and how they may come to pass. We’re in year three of this collective bargaining agreement, so this year should be a little easier to navigate since it’s not Year One of a new document. Some of it will be in less detail than is necessary for a thorough understanding and some of it will be in more detail than is necessary for a cursory understanding (apologies if I haven’t correctly navigated that middle-ground) – if you have any questions, tweet them to me @BlakeMurphyODC or leave them in the comments and I’ll do a follow-up post explaining certain rules or scenarios Friday.