18 November 2020 20:37
Tons of players signed short-term contracts last summer, and free agents will be incentivized to sign quickly, before the teams with cap space use all of it. Teams weren't desperately dumping salary before February's trade deadline in order to position themselves to sign on a No. 2 or No. 3 option. But how crazy would another team have to get to make the Toronto Raptors or Brooklyn Nets flinch? The New York Knicks have had a point guard problem for eternity; to solve it, maybe they'd be willing to offer VanVleet a bit more than they would otherwise, especially if they're also trying to scare off the Detroit Pistons. Given that VanVleet can guard bigger players, he could work there, too, starting next to Trae Young and running the second unit.
The Raptors don't have much wiggle room if they want to enter next year's free agency with a max slot and try to lure Antetokounmpo. Typically, if you're going to make a multi-year investment in a player, a team would like to look at a larger sample size. When he finally became an unrestricted free agent in 2019, Jimmy Butler got exactly what he wanted: A max contract with the Miami Heat. It didn't matter that Miami didn't enter the offseason with cap space; it worked out a sign-and-trade that sent Josh Richardson to the Philadelphia 76ers. For several free agents, this will be the only path to change teams, play for a winner and make more than the mid-level exception.
I don't know if you've heard, but the NBA didn't make as much money as it projected last season, and the salary cap and luxury-tax level have been artificially frozen where they were last year. Teams that stay under the "apron"--which has been set at $138.9 million--have a larger mid-level exception to offer, can receive players in sign-and-trade transactions and can use a bi-annual exception. The Clippers could look into sign-and-trades involving Montrezl Harrell and Marcus Morris. A win-now team that is bereft of draft picks shouldn't be in the business of letting good players walk. JaMychal Green might be able to get a raise if he opts out of his $5 million player option. The Heat's offseason could be simple: Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder return on one-year deals, they don't reach an extension with Bam Adebayo and they maintain their 2021 cap space. An important sub-question: If Antetokounmpo elects to sign the supermax extension with Milwaukee as soon as free agency begins, does this change the Heat's plan? It was a bit surprising when Al Horford turned down his $30.1 million player option last offseason, but unrestricted free agency worked out extremely well for him. The Knicks are reportedly open to using their cap space to take on salary in exchange for draft picks, which is what they should've done last summer when they realized they weren't getting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But New York was also reportedly interested in signing Carmelo Anthony and trading for Chris Paul, so it's not clear that it is taking the long view here. The Pistons looked like a typical tanking team toward the end of the regular season, but their situation is more complicated than that. It would hurt to lose Wood after his big breakout, but if he gets too expensive, re-signing him would cut into the Pistons' cap room, which they'd presumably like to use on another starter-quality player. If this is what the market looks like every year, how much will the San Antonio Spurs be willing to commit to restricted free agent Jakob Poeltl? Enes Kanter had an inconsistent role with the Boston Celtics, but he's probably better off picking up his $5 million option than looking elsewhere. We are just hours away from the 2020 NBA Draft, and the Toronto Raptors will be on the clock to select 29th and 59th in the first and second rounds. Picking 29th in this year's draft is not bad, as there are numerous rotation-level players in that range. As of this writing, the Raptors have worked out six players (that we know about): Devon Dotson, Theo Maledon, Malachi Flynn, Tyler Bey, Jaden McDaniels, and Nico Mannion. We know how tight-lipped the Raptors are in general, and some prospects have also declined to disclose for whom they've worked out, so there could be more players in the mix. Of note, it's interesting to see players like Jalen Smith and Josh Green among them, as they are projected to go way before the Raptors are on the clock. Still, like every team, Toronto has used the interview process to talk to prospects within their range and in the talent pool's undrafted section. From the way some Raptors draft personnel talked in the past few weeks, it sounds like the team will restock their roster's back-end with younger talent. Some of the names attached to the Raptors in various draft mocks at 59th are all interesting projects. Worry not, there's also some Canadian content in Karim Mane, Nate Darling, and Isiaha Mike, who all received an interview from the Raptors. There are plenty of prospects around the early/mid-second round range that may be of use — and that could be cheaply acquired. The Raptors can theoretically land an extra pick if they engage in a trade. Unfortunately, the trade would have to happen before the NBA Draft for the Raptors to be on the clock officially to make that selection — technically. For the Raptors, it's doubtful that teams would give up any picks to obtain the likes of Stanley Johnson or even Patrick McCaw, but their contracts are good to fill in the gaps for salary matching purposes. Teams are likely at least semi-interested in Terence Davis, or maybe even Dewan Hernandez, but their trade value is all over the map right now. Attaching the 29th pick to Powell just to move up into the late-lottery might not even be worth it, as the talent in that range isn't that significantly better than the ones in the late first round. Besides, trading Powell would mean the Raptors taking back comparable salary as well, and we all know how Masai is protecting his 2021 cap space. One is straight-up cash consideration, where a team sells their pick for money that does not affect the cap space. The 2019 NBA Draft saw a flurry of teams trading/selling picks in the second round. The 30s range is a bit steeper, often requiring multiple second-round picks. Teams can also trade down and yield multiple picks. Last year, the Detroit Pistons traded the 30th pick for four future second-round picks. To provide a Toronto example: Masai Ujiri dumped DeMarre Carroll to the Brooklyn Nets, but it cost Toronto their first and second-round picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. A couple of things to keep in mind: The Raptors have traded three of their next four second-round picks already (in 2021, 2022, and 2024). Also, one of the future drafts will be a double cohort, which could mean that better prospects might be available outside of the lottery, making it hard to surrender a future first-round pick. Nnaji was interviewed by the Raptors twice but was not brought in to workout. We looked into Carey as a Raptors prospect a few months ago. This interview feels like the Raptors are just checking in on him if he falls into their range at number 29. Projected Range: Late 2nd Round/Undrafted He's a potential long-term project, but he could be an option for a two-way contract. Projected Range: Late lottery to late 1st round Projected Range: Mid-late 1st round Playoff teams might snag him before the Raptors can get in there. All that being said, he could be — for right now and at best — an interesting two-way project. Projected Range: Mid 2nd round Dotson was one of the players who was in an early workout for the Raptors. Projected Range: Early 2nd round His mock draft stock is still all over the place, however, though some do have the Raptors taking him in the first round. Projected Range: Late 1st round We profiled McDaniels recently, as he was our pick on behalf of the Raptors in SB Nation's Mock Draft.