Salary Cap Changes will Affect Raptors Summer Plans

Aaron Rose

Retaining Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol this summer was going to be tough for the Toronto Raptors before COVID-19 hit, but as the coronavirus pandemic drags on, the Raptors will likely face an even tougher financial crunch this summer.

Toronto has over $60 million dollars coming off the books this summer as VanVleet, Ibaka, Gasol, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson all head into unrestricted free agency when the season ends. 

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Ideally, the team would have been able to bring back VanVleet along with one of either Ibaka or Gasol next season, while retaining cap space to go after Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021. But now, with the NBA salary cap likely dropping from its projected $115 million in some form due to the altered season, The Athletic's John Hollinger says trying to bring everyone back might not be possible for the Raptors.

"It may be difficult for Toronto to keep two of the three and use any exception money, while the odds of finding leftover money to keep one of their energizer forwards (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris Boucher) will take a hit as well," Hollinger writes.

The one possible cap-related benefit from the pandemic for the Raptors is the increased likelihood that pending free agents will take a one-year deal this summer in hopes of re-establishing value in 2021. It's something ESPN's Bobby Mark's told the New York Post he expects to see a lot of this summer and something VanVleet told reporters he would consider — albeit reluctantly — back in April. If the Raptors pending free agents decide to re-sign for the year, they'd be able to hit the market in 2021, and Toronto would have more cap room to go after some of the big free agents that summer.

Aaron Rose covers the Toronto Raptors and Canada Basketball for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @aaronbenrose or on Facebook @AllRaptors.

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