Losing Pick Has Given Raptors New Free Agency Flexibility

The Toronto Raptors can create nearly $30 million in salary cap space if the organization opts to part ways with Gary Trent Jr. and Bruce Brown
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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It’s been almost a decade since the Toronto Raptors last had cap space to spend in free agency.

Sure, their mid-level exception and bi-annual exception signings haven’t worked out, but the notion that Toronto can’t sign players in free agency has largely been due to the simple fact that the Raptors haven’t had cap space to do so. The last time the organization did have space, they inked DeMarre Carroll to a multi-year deal. It didn't work out due to injuries, but Carroll was considered among the top players available in the summer of 2025.

That’s what makes this summer potentially fascinating for Toronto.

After missing out on a top pick in Sunday’s NBA draft lottery, the Raptors now have a pretty straightforward path to almost $30 million in salary cap space this summer. If Toronto wants to part ways with Bruce Brown, Gary Trent Jr., Jordan Nwora, and Javon Freeman-Liberty, the organization can create $29.7 million in cap space this summer while still holding Immanuel Quickley's free agency rights.

That would allow Toronto to sign a free agent to a contract worth up to $93.7 million over three years or $127.8 million over four years.

For contact, that average annual salary would have been enough to sign every free agent last summer except Fred VanVleet, Kyrie Irving, and Jerami Grant.

This year, though, free agency is a little bit strange for Toronto.

Paul George could be the top prize on the move, but he’ll be priced out of Toronto’s budget. Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Jonas Valanciunas are all available, but unlikely to be back in Toronto. Tobias Harris and Buddy Hield are unlikely to fit the profile Toronto is looking for.

Patrick Williams and Isaac Okoro are both better fits for the Raptors and Toronto could try to throw a hefty offer sheet at the two forwards, hoping the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively, decline to match. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, but it could lead to Toronto seriously overpaying two pretty mediocre young wings.

The other option would be to use that cap space as a trade chip for a team looking to shed some salary. The Raptors could theoretically take on a bad contract from one of the many teams up against the luxury tax this summer. The Oklahoma City Thunder used this kind of maneuver to load up on future draft picks by taking on bad contracts from good teams.

At the very least, Toronto has flexibility.

The organization can re-sign Trent and keep Brown around as a trade chip this summer and use the mid-level exception to sign someone to a deal worth $14.2 million next season. Or there’s an avenue to creating substantial cap space for the first time in a very long time.

Aaron Rose


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