Toronto Raptors sign Norman Powell to 4 year, $42 million extension

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26: Norman Powell
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26: Norman Powell /

ESPN’s Adrian Wojranowski has blessed us with another Woj bomb. Norman Powell and the Toronto Raptors have agreed to a four-year, $42-million extension. 

It seems like a chronic underpay considering the value Norman Powell has brought to the Toronto Raptors over the past two seasons.

However, under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, Powell was eligible to sign for either 120 per cent of his current annual salary or 120 per cent of the average projected salary this season.

Since he was a second round pick with a three-year rookie contract instead of a first rounder with four years, he qualified for the ‘veteran extension’ scale instead of the rookie extension scale which players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Andrew Wiggins are expected to get.

The new deal kicks in during the 2018-19 season where his contract bumps up from the $1.4 million minimum to roughly $9.4 million for the 2018-19 season, compounding yearly with eight per cent raises each year.

Essentially, it’s the same contract Josh Richardson signed. Who? Exactly. The extension in all forms is a hedge but by who? In this case it depends on the situation.

The Miami Heat are starved for young prospects and any player who offers even a glimmer of potential is a must-lock. So even though you’ve probably never heard of Richardson, he’s making the same amount of dollars as the guy who probably saved the Raptors in the playoffs two years in a row.

The Raptors, on the other hand, had all the leverage even though Powell could have turned down the extension and bet it all on himself.

There are players who do that and they flourish (like Harrison Barnes) and then there are those who flame out. The flameouts dream about the career and contract they were within a pen stroke of having, before waking up having to get ready for 76ers’ training camp.

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With the prospect of failure (no matter how minuscule it seems) in the works, it makes sense for Powell to sign the dotted line; $9 million a year is life-changing money, not just for you but for your kids, your kids’ kids and your kids’ kids’ kids. Is it really worth it to risk all that for an extra $3 million a year?

This offseason’s restricted and unrestricted free agency was the most frigid in recent history and it’s not looking to get any warmer next year. That scares players and their agents alike; sure Tim Hardaway Jr. and Allen Crabbe cashed out this offseason, but money is getting tighter around the league.

Even if Powell outperformed the extension offer, it’s unlikely he’d get a comparable dollar amount and if he doesn’t, the Toronto Raptors have him backed into a corner during negotiations. All those horrible contracts from two years ago are finally coming home to roost, meaning, ain’t nobody gonna sign you when they have to worry about avoiding the tax.

Now, the Raptors have about $125 million committed to 10 players and are about $2 million over the tax for the 2018-19 campaign. Masai Ujiri made it clear throughout last season that ownership is willing to go into the tax, although it’s hard to justify doing so this year when the Raps aren’t looking super competitive. Sure the Raptors are a playoff team but they’re not giving the Cavs a run for their money any time soon.

And with the team so far over the cap, all the side eye’s glaring at Jonas Valanciunas for a trade are now optic blasts shot from Cyclops’ eyes. Valanciunas isn’t a modern NBA centre and fans have clamored for his departure or injection into the Raptors’ offence for years on end; it’s only fitting the saga comes to an end in July.

But that decision can wait till the summer. Powell’s made consistent improvement as a scorer, playmaker, and defender. And even though his shooting regressed last year from his alarming 40 percent to 32 percent, he’s still one of the Raptors’ best options off the bench.

With no other major scorer off the pine, Powell will most likely assume Cory Joseph‘s role of the sixth man. Last year when Powell assumed DeMar DeRozan‘s starting role, his minute total bumped from 18 minutes per to 30.

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His efficiency, along with his raw totals, skyrocketed from 6.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1 assist while shooting 27 percent from deep, to 15.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2 assist and draining 39.7 percent (!!) from deep.

It helps that he was running alongside Kyle Lowry during the majority of those minutes, but the numbers don’t lie. As a sixth man, he’ll be looking at around the same minute total he briefly saw as a starter in a more defined role. He’ll still get to play with Lowry and now with Dwane Casey’s new offensive playstyle change, Powell could look better than ever.

Don’t forget Mr. Serious is only 24-years-old. If he develops in his playmaking or that once laser 3-point shot, then the Raptors are looking at a Jae Crowder-level bargain for four more years.

Even if Powell stalls out where he is now in development, he’s still a quality player for just barely above the mid-level exception. It’s hard to see that happening though, given Powell’s rumoured legendary work ethic.

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Today we celebrate Powell’s extended stay at Toronto Raptors hotel. No long faces around here, Powell gets life-changing money, the Raptors lock up one of the best young players in the league and are one more step closer to world domination.