Toronto Raptors should also look at options in the trade market
Here is another possibility the Raptors could look into that connects free agency and the draft together. If Toronto decides attracting a free agent this coming summer is not something they are interested in any longer, they could use their salary cap space to take on some undesirable contracts in exchange for draft capital at the trade deadline.
Not to say this trade will happen, but here is an example of a structure that the Raptors could look into. Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, who is from Thornhill, Ontario, is making $29.5, $31.5 and $33.6 million over the next three seasons and is largely considered an undesirable contract. Given the Warriors massive luxury tax bill, Wiggins play in relation to his contract and the Warriors expectations of being good this year; the Raptors could offer something like the following:
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From Toronto’s perspective, they pick up two first-round picks, stay under the luxury tax this year, and either play Wiggins at the two next to VanVleet if Lowry were to walk, or have him be your sixth man and come off the bench. You can also look to trade him, with his value being higher because there will be fewer years on his deal should he be traded again.
The Raptors could also get a better look at Paul Watson and Malachi Flynn in this scenario. The players going out, all have one year left on their deals, so essentially Toronto would just have to fill in the gaps next season using their full MLE and cheaper value contracts as well as elevating rookies into larger roles. It would be the start of a re-tool for the team.
From the Warrior’s standpoint, you lower your luxury tax bill this season, get off of Wiggins’ contract for the next two seasons (where the repeater tax is a heavy possibility) and add some rotation players that are sure to help you this season.
Getting rid of guys like Jordan Poole and Marquese Chriss while replacing them with Powell and Davis will surely help their rotation. Also because roster limits are 17 this year, you would only need to cut bait with two players (perhaps shipping them to a 3rd team) to make it work. The Warriors also have the Wolves 1st round pick which looks like it will be in the top 10, so giving up their own doesn’t hurt as much.
Again, not saying either team would do this deal, but the framework is one Toronto should look at. Other candidates that could potentially net draft picks (although different trade packages would be required) are Buddy Hield, Terry Rozier, Taurean Prince, Harrison Barnes and Clint Capela.
Lastly, there is no in-house disappointment for looking bad this season. There is something to be said about how a losing atmosphere changes when you are watching on TV instead of at the games. I doubt season-seat holders would decline to renew their package (especially given how long it will have been since they have seen a real NBA game live) and I think the Toronto fan base and their desire to watch their team live again is strong enough to expect many sold-out crowds regardless of how the season ends (This becomes even more true if you were to land an exciting player in the draft).
No one wants to see the Toronto Raptors go back to how things were before the 2013-2014 season. However, the more you look at it, the more you can talk yourself into short term pain, for long term gain.