With the offseason almost here, Athletic wild birds Writer Eric Koren and senior writer John Hollinger had a discussion about the biggest decisions facing the Raptors in this off-season.
Corinne: Hello John. Thanks for taking the time. First, an unnecessarily aggressive rhetorical question: Has Precious Ichiwa made you all your words On the Kyle Lowry Signing and trading a deal from last summer until now? Seriously, no need to answer. Raptors Internet fans keep their receipts.
Before we get into the matter of this season, I wanted to get your general opinion of the 2021-22 Raptors season that ended a month or so ago. What are your impressions of Project 6-8, and how did the way the playoffs unfold change the way you view Masai Ujiri’s explicit strategy for building the Raptors’ roster?
Hollinger: costly! Advanced stats still question him, but he made a lot of progress last season and has clear ways to improve further. The deal looks better than it did last summer for sure.
For the bigger issue of the Raptors season, it should be considered a smash hit on most levels. Fred Vanfleet make an all-star team, Scotty Barnes Won the Novice of the Year award, and Pascal Siakam made all-NBA. The Raptors won 48 games and lifted Philly to six games in the first round. Entering the season, anyone would have accepted that.
Project 6-8, as you call it, appears to be where the league is headed, but the series against the Sixers also demonstrated some of the limitations of this approach. Sometimes, having a real hub actually comes in handy.
The bigger question that remains is whether this iteration of the Raptors has any real championship, and if so, what needs to happen to propel them there.
Corinne: With all due respect to the mid-level exception sweepstakes for taxpayers (which I think might be more exciting than usual), I’d like to focus on the two biggest decisions the Raptors have to make, which can happen in concert with their top players — at least for the time being. Both Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam are eligible for an extension this season, although Siakam’s negotiation window doesn’t start until October.
Before we get into their specific situations, I’m wondering what you think of veteran extensions in general. Obviously, the longer the “bad” contract, the worse for the team, and the longer the “good” contract, the better for the team. Given the way deals for veterans have been going lately, do you think you’d err on the side of closing the deal or, ahem, “maintaining flexibility?”
Hollinger: In the case of Toronto, I would probably choose to get a deal, particularly with VanVleet, who can opt out and become a free agent in 2023. That’s because the Raptors are what I call “Bird Rights Trap‘, where a player leaving in free agency cannot easily be replaced by another, because there is no space left for them to sign a similar player. (In theory, Toronto could sign a big contract to replace VanVleet in 2023, but only if Gary Trent Jr. He walks too and the Raptors don’t get any other paychecks now and then.) Thus, retaining the rights of the players is almost always the way.
With Siakam, the argument is made a bit more complicated due to his age, a higher initial contract, and the fact that he has already signed until 2024.
Corinne: For the reason I just outlined, VanVleet is the most interesting case for me. It’s the cultural touchstone of franchise and the obvious natural heir to Kyle Lowry, but it’s also shown signs of eroding as the seasons progressed. Also, apart from the last nine games of the 2019 Championship – very big games, John! His record in matches wasn’t great.
He can either opt out of his 2023-24 player option and sign a four-year extension, or sign up and sign up for another three years after that. The first method will make him more money, but either way, he’s looking at a deal that starts around 20 percent of his cap. How do you view this from the perspective of the Raptors?
Hollinger: He is 28 years old and just made the All-Star Team. Players like this are expensive. While the Raptors should be a little wary of locking him up into his mid-30s, the high hat should take some off the sting of years past. In the big picture, if VanVleet becomes a free customer next summer, there’s a real chance another team is hungry to give it crazy money. Locking him in on a perfectly reasonable salary of $25 million a year takes that possibility off the table. Toronto should be well prepared to do so.
Corinne: Alternatively, if you were a VanVleet agent, what would you recommend? And how many teams could have upwards of $25 million in the cover room in 2023-24, at least for now, playing in things? We all know that VanVleet He is fond of betting on himself.
Hollinger: Unfortunately, that’s why I think this will last longer. Remember, VanVleet can always extend 11 hours before the free agency next year by signing up for his contract in June and building an extension to that number. So, in his view, the only reason to agree to a deal now is to secure the landing of the bag. As you pointed out, this bag could be a lot bigger next summer even if he doesn’t have a particularly good year, just because of the supply and demand situation in the free agent market a year from now.
Corinne: Our friend Danny Leroux just wrote about Extension or trade scenarios facing different teams. How powerful would VanVleet’s shopping be throughout the league if the Raptors couldn’t work out a deal with him? How do you see the value of his trade now?
Hollinger: Kyle Lowry was the latest example of raptors getting some value from leaving Free Agents. If the Raptors have some indication that Fred will be walking past the year, then yes, I think they should shop around and determine his commercial value. I think he could get two first-round picks from a team, or one plus a prospect, if they knew he’d re-sign with them next summer.
However, if the Raptors think he’s trying to get a bigger bag but aren’t particularly concerned about it as a flying hazard, they may be more comfortable playing this one. I think this is the most likely scenario. In this case, I think Toronto’s stance should be more in line with keeping their ears open without particularly having to take action, unless someone catches them with a crazy show.
Corinne: For me, the Siakam case is less interesting. As of October 1, the Raptors can offer Siakam a three-year extension worth approximately $129 million. Unlike VanVleet, there is no player option for Siakam for 2023-24. It’s coming off a great season, but that was on the heels of some poor gameplay, if it can be explained. We have seen how sluggish potential extension talks can spoil relations between the two teams. Is there any advantage in trying to get Siakam’s signature on a stretch just below the max, or do you start these conversations down the road?
Hollinger: Any extension to Siakam will start at $40 million a year and won’t start until he turns 30, making it a somewhat risky deal from a Toronto perspective, even if the ceiling height could protect them from the worst of it. .
Having said that, I think there’s a bit more controversy to take care of at the moment, which is that you’d rather sign him to a five-year deal when he’s 28 than do the same when he’s 30. Siakam’s deal will still be tradable even after he’s signed, unless he starts to go downhill almost immediately.
My biggest argument against doing this is Scotty Barnes. It’ll be in a maximum bargain (if not a Supermax) from 2024-25, which means the Raptors will have to think carefully about who they want to pay big money for. It’s possible that they decided to pay all of Siakam’s money, VanVleet, Trent, and OG Anunoby It seems logical to them, but this is a very expensive pentagon – and still without a center. Historically, the Raptors in tax would spend quite a bit on the right team, but they wouldn’t share what clippers And the the Warriors Do with eight-digit tax bills.
As a result, I think flexibility has become the key word here. Toronto still has two years to extend Siakam’s deal and it will have the advantage even if he gets an unrestricted free agency in 2024. I’ll continue that for another year before committing if I’m in the front office for the Raptors.
Corinne: With so few “exciting” teams having a cover room this summer, and so many of the best free agents so polarizing, I have a feeling the mid-level exception for non-taxpayers could be a more meaningful spending tool than usual this season, Especially for teams looking to compete. some questions:
- Do you think Chris Boucher or Thaddeus Young Will order the full MLE?
- Do you have favorite goals that could be in this range?
- If you’re a Raptors, and had to consider potential extensions/increments to some or all of VanVleet, Siakam, Trent, Anunoby and Achiuwa in the next few seasons, how conservative would you be to part with multiple years in such a deal any free agent – Whether it is yours or from outside the organization?
Hollinger: Let’s deal with these one by one.
For starters, I think Boucher is more likely to have an interest in that price point than the Young just because of the age difference, especially on a multi-year deal. The Raptors are far enough off the tax limit that they can in theory sign deals the size of an MLE with their limited bird rights and still have enough to use their MLE, so they are in a good place to hold each. Sure, I don’t see either of them happening more from MLE.
I’ll move on to third straight away, because the biggest problem for Toronto on Boucher and/or Young will not be money but for years. How much they want to commit another $7-10 million each when their payroll situation becomes more difficult after two and three years. They have to think about some iteration in getting both, too; Don’t they want a real center sometime? I can easily see the Raptors both signing for more seed money than expected, but with a slight second-year guarantee of increased flexibility and their ability to put either one on another player deal.
As for #2, I think Toronto obviously needs another real Ranger on the list, which will also help them avoid VanVleet falling to the ground. Ricky Rubio And the Teos Jones Ambitious goals, but I don’t think either of them will come here in the mid-level to be a fallback. More realistically, an old friend Dillon Wright It would fit in well here and could be for less than MLE. They too might take a closer look at Eric Bledsoewhich will almost certainly be waived Portland.
Corinne: Finally, I was on the collecting project. The Raptors’ Choice 33. Have any players over the age of 20 or so intrigued you?
Hollinger: Yes a little. I really like Arizona’s Dalyn Terry and I think he’d be a perfect fit for the 6-8 project, but he might be long gone by the time the Raptors pick him up. More realistically, I’m a fan of Duke’s Wendell Moore and think it would give the Raptors a solid option in Backup 2.
Two of the guys who might be a good fit under the “6-8 Project” banner are Colorado State’s David Rudy (6-5 but built as an offensive lineman), Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia and Marquette’s Justin Lewis. I have a first-round score in LaRavia and his stock seems to be on the rise, so one might think more wishful thinking.
Finally, the Raptors love their internationals and can still use some midfield assist, so I’ll be keeping an eye on the French big man Ismael Camaghatti, an edge runner who could end up being a hideout waiting to be brought in until 2023.
(Top photo by Fred van Vliet and Pascal Siakam: Cole Burston/Getty Images Sport)