Draft Lottery Night Could Radically Change the Raptors' Offseason Budget

The Toronto Raptors plans for Gary Trent Jr., Bruce Brown, and free agency this summer will likely come down to how the draft lottery plays out later this month
Apr 9, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;   Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. (33) shoots the ball
Apr 9, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. (33) shoots the ball / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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The Toronto Raptors don’t really know what the future holds.

It wasn’t as if team president Masai Ujiri was trying to play coy with the media when he avoided answering a question about the team’s free agency plans. Yes, Toronto does have an avenue to create cap space this summer, but a significant portion of that hypothetical cap space is entirely dependent on how the NBA Draft Lottery plays out later this month.

If the Raptors wanted to, they could decline Bruce Brown’s team option and renounce the rights to all their pending free agents save for Immanuel Quickley. That would mean losing Gary Trent Jr., Jordan Nwora, and Garrett Temple in order to create just less than $30 million in cap space.

That’s not a ton of cap space, but it’s enough to attract a mid-tier free agent this summer. Brown, for example, would have fit into that cap space amount last summer. Dillon Brooks and Max Strus would have too.

But that all changes if Toronto does keep its top-six protected first-round pick this year.  

If the Raptors land the No. 1 pick, for example, Toronto’s cap space would shrink to roughly $17 million. At No. 4, that number looks more like $20 million in space. If Toronto were to stay at No. 6, the Raptors would be looking at roughly $22 million this summer.

That difference is enough to sway how Toronto approaches its plans with Trent and Brown this summer.

With a top-six pick in this year’s draft, the organization is far more likely to keep Trent and Brown this offseason because keeping the two guards under contract is more valuable than the roughly $20 million in space the organization would create without them. If, however, Toronto’s first-round pick goes to San Antonio, maybe the opportunity to create $30 million in cap space becomes more valuable to the Raptors.

How it all plays out will quite literally be up in the air when the ping pong balls start flying on draft lottery night. It’s entirely possible Trent and Brown’s future with the team will come down to that 45.8% chance Toronto has to keep its first-round pick later this month.

Aaron Rose


Aaron Rose is a Toronto-based reporter covering the Toronto Raptors since 2020.