Estimated salary cap drop will complicate life for Toronto Raptors


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LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 06: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks warms up prior to the start of a basketball game against Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 6, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

It is estimated that the salary cap could drop by $25-30 million for the next season. This makes things a whole lot more complicated for the Toronto Raptors with their upcoming free agents and interest in Giannis.

The Toronto Raptors have not been shy to admit that they are keeping doors open for Giannis Antetokounmpo. But keeping the doors open always meant being careful this upcoming free agency, where they have key players becoming free agents this summer. But it got a whole lot more complicated when it was reported that one team has told Bobby Markz, that the cap could decline by $25 to $30 million.

The Raptors current salary cap situation

As of now, the current max salary cap is $109,140,000, with the luxury tax threshold being at $132,627,000. Let’s say that the cap does fall by $25 million, then the max salary cap would fall all the way to $84 million, and the luxury tax threshold would most likely be $107,627,000.

The Toronto Raptors already have a salary cap of $86 million dollars entering next season, which is already over the cap. They also have quite a list of players who will be waiting for contract negotiations. There is Fred VanVleet who will finally be looking to get his payday, Serge Ibaka who might be having his best season yet, and Marc Gasol who will most likely get a contract not more than ten million. There is also OG Anunoby who is eligible for a new contract extension, with his rookie contract expiring in the 2021-2022 season.

So what exactly does this mean for the Toronto Raptors, what do they do from this point on and what do you need to know. Well for starters we can expect Pascal Siakam‘s contract to be reduced since it is tied to a certain percentage of the cap. The cap is falling by 23 percent, so it can be expected that Siakam’s contract will dip by quite a bit. If everything reported is true, then Pascal Siakam can lose out around $7 million and the Raptors salary cap would also drop to $79 million, which gives them slightly more flexibility.

Well, now what?

Well, we know that the Toronto Raptors do have a solid chance to sign Giannis to the max if he decides to leave Milwaukee via free agency. He has a very good friendship with Masai Ujiri and the winning culture that is so important to Giannis is something that the Raptors have. If the Toronto Raptors truly believe they can land Giannis then that means letting go of some of their key players.

Serge Ibaka is 30 years old and will be asking for lots of money, but given the situation with the cap falling, there is a likelihood that Ibaka can return on a one-year friendly deal so he can sign a more lucrative deal for the 2021-2022 deal. The 2020 free agency class is weak and Serge Ibaka will be one of the premier free agents on the market.

They do have his bird rights and would be able to go over the salary cap to sign him to that one-year extension if needed, but signing him to a one year deal will most likely lower the Raptors chances at getting Fred VanVleet, which is something I doubt they do.

(Ibaka contract estimate: 1 year, $15-20 Million) 

Of course, if Ibaka is signed, this will not leave room for Marc Gasol, who is a much cheaper option than Ibaka. Gasol is 35 years old and it really is starting to show. He has been struggling to stay healthy and his role has been very much minimized. That doesn’t mean his game isn’t aging well. He still provides the team with veteran leadership, floor spacing, and playmaking. Something any winning team wants. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Raptors do decide to go with Gasol. They have his bird’s rights and it will give them the space needed to sign VanVleet.

(Gasol contract estimate: 2 years, $10 Million)

It is no surprise that Fred VanVleet should be the Raptors’ first priority this upcoming summer. He is the perfect heir to Kyle Lowry and has developed a really good two-man game with Pascal Siakam. He also plays defense and just about fits in any situation, and that’s the problem. Every team with cap space will be willing to pay him a lot of money. A player of his value might go up to $20-25 million and if the Raptors want to keep space for Giannis, they’ll have to hope that VanVleet takes a discount.

The Toronto Raptors have to do what it takes to lock up VanVleet. He might also opt to sign a one year deal to leave a more lucrative deal to be signed the 2021-2022 season and that might be troublesome for the Raptors. We already know he is a great fit here, and can easily be the point guard of the future for the Raptors, but just how much are other teams willing to pay him and how much of a pay cut will he take to stay in Toronto?

(VanVleet contract estimate: 1 year, $18 Million or 3 years, $60 Million)

What will Raptors do?

Let’s say that the Toronto Raptors do the most likely situation and sign VanVleet and Gasol to these contracts, then the rest of the roster has to be filled up with minimum or Mid-level-exception contracts (Chris Boucher and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) and they might even enter the luxury tax. Let’s say they don’t re-sign Kyle Lowry and sign OG Anunoby to a 4 year, $60 million contract for the 2021-2022 season.

The Raptors will have Siakam, Gasol, OG Anunoby, VanVleet, and other minimum guys on their team which would amount to roughly around $70 million of cap space. Leaving them with just enough cap space to sign Giannis, given the cap space does go back up a bit. This is, of course, all hypothetical.

All we know do know for sure is that these ramifications can complicate a whole lot of things for Masai and the Toronto Raptors. The cap was expected to go up and everything would’ve fallen in place perfectly. But although I don’t feel that this minimizes the chances of the team signing Giannis in 2021, this rather minimizes the chance of having the best possible team surrounding Giannis if he does sign.

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Yes, the team will have Siakam no matter what, but the possibility of losing VanVleet, Gasol, Ibaka, and maybe even an OG Anunoby who are all looking to make the most they can is troubling. Let’s just hope the salary doesn’t drop by all that much and somewhat re-stabilizes for 2021-2022 season, or else it will seriously hurt the team’s chances of having the best team possible by the 2021-2022 season.