We’re very much in the thick of a fascinating NBA Finals matchup but all good things come to an end and it won’t be long before these two teams face some serious questions in the upcoming offseason.
Here’s a quick rundown of which notable Raptors players could potentially be free agents when the calendar flips to July in a few weeks and what that might entail for the team and the players.
Marc Gasol, C
Gasol has a player option worth $25 million for the 2019-20 season. While it’s certainly within his right to turn down that option and test the open market, it’s hard to imagine that the 34-year-old would hand over that much in guaranteed money at this stage in his career, doubly so considering that he’s a valued piece of a championship contender.
Danny Green, SG
Green is in the final year of a four-year, $40 million deal he signed with the Spurs back in 2016. Given that the 31-year-old spent the 2018-19 campaign further establishing himself as a deadly perimeter threat (he shot .455 from beyond the arc this year), it stands to reason that the Raptors would welcome him back.
That said, the Raps do project to have a sizable tax bill, especially if they manage to convince that other former Spur to stay, so the decision won’t be a walk in the park for Masai Ujiri.
Although Green may not get the years that he did back in 2016, he’s a safe bet to earn a comparable salary as a lengthy veteran three-point shooter with an abundance of winning experience. He’s also the type of asset other contenders may look to poach with a high-value, short-term offer.
Kawhi Leonard, SF
In case you hadn’t heard, Leonard could pursue free agency this summer. There’s been no shortage of speculation about if he’ll stay or go, or where he’ll go, so we won’t pile on here but one thing worth consideration is what he’ll be eligible to sign for come July.
Since Leonard was traded more recently than his first four years in the league, he won’t be eligible to sign a designated veteran contract with the Raptors. Had he not been dealt, of course, the All-NBA mainstay would have been eligible to sign one (or more likely, a designated veteran extension last summer).
What does that mean? It means that Leonard will only be able to sign in the max contract slot for a player with seven-to-nine years of service time and therefore will only be eligible to earn 30% of the cap in the first year of that contract. Had he maintained the designated veteran distinction (or been a 10-year veteran) he would have been eligible to earn 35%.
Despite that, there is incentive for Leonard to return to the Raptors. Since the Raps are Leonard’s incumbent team they’ll be able to offer an additional year and bigger raises between seasons. Toronto could therefore give Leonard a 30% max deal, for five seasons, with 8% increases each year. That’s a total deal worth just shy of $190 million based on a $109 million salary cap projection (thank Hoops Rumors’ Luke Adams for the math).
If Leonard signs elsewhere, he’ll only be eligible to sign for four years, with 5% raises between each season. That would add up to a grand total of $140 million.
The significance of that difference varies depending on who you ask but it’s something for fans of all teams to keep in mind as they envision scenarios in which their franchise benefits from Leonard’s legendary postseason heroics in 2020 and beyond.
Jeremy Lin, PG
Lin’s $14 million 2018-19 deal was bought out by the Hawks in February. The 30-year-old had seen a reduced role in his half season with the Hawks and hasn’t been a factor for Toronto since. With a year of good health under his belt, Lin may look to provide backcourt depth for a team with cap space. He could also be a candidate to sign a cheap one-year deal just to prove that he can still contribute.
Patrick McCaw, SG
The Raptors signed McCaw to a one-year minimum deal after the 23-year-old was waived by the Cavaliers in January. While their priority will be on their higher profile wing free agents, the team hasn’t been afraid to use McCaw on the rare occasion throughout the postseason.