Trade Proposal: Raptors may need to make deal they (and we) hate

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 4: Fred VanVleet /

The astonishing success of Fred VanVleet, and a sudden cash shortfall for big-spending teams, may force the Raptors into a nasty decision.

Brian Windhorst is well connected in the NBA, and is one of the commentators I look to for sensible, non-fanboy coverage of important topics. So when he declares a financial crunch for both teams and players, I pay attention.

Loyal readers will remember I recently took a run at guessing how much money the Toronto Raptors would need to pony up to retain the services of Fred VanVleet. Windhorst has now put the fear of God into me. I don’t know how the Raptors can keep Fred, a Restricted Free Agent [RFA] after this season.

Over the years I’ve put together Trade Proposals of all kinds for the Raptors. Some deals I’ve fervently wished team management (whoever it was at the time) would make, others were more of an thought experiment. A few I might look at today as off the wall. However, I’ve never put together a trade I’ve hated – until now.

Helping Atlanta rebuild

The Atlanta Hawks are under the salary cap. Therefore, absorbing Fred’s current salary, then offering him a whole bunch more over the summer, is a problem-free assignment for them. They also wouldn’t have any trouble being persuaded that Fred, a finished product, would be a safer bet than a late first-round selection.

TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 30: Fred VanVleet
TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 30: Fred VanVleet /

The Raptors situation, particularly if Windhorst’s assessment is accurate, has far fewer options. The salary cap is projected to grow from $ 99 million this season to $ 101 M in 2018-19, which is a rounding error. Masai Ujiri could renounce Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo’s Qualifying Offers, thus cutting them adrift. I suspect Bruno’s departure is a foregone conclusion, but giving up Bebe would sting.

Besides, all we’ve done is financed Norman Powell’s hefty raise, and the smaller bumps due to Delon Wright and other members of our excellent bench. There’s still no “new” money for Fred.

More from Raptors Rapture

Do we dump C.J. Miles for a box of popcorn from another under-the-cap team, like we did with CoJo? Maybe, but the roster is getting shorter and shorter. To boot, we’re assuming that Norman is capable of being the next C.J. as a 3-point shooter, a thought I’m not at all comfortable with. Norman has nowhere near C.J.’s quick release or his accuracy.

Trading Fred is certainly better than waving good-bye to him in the summer for nothing. And a late first-round draft pick is a marvellous return on investment for an undrafted player.

The preceding paragraph is called “rationalization” by psychologists. I hate the idea of trading Fred.

Please Rapture Nation, send me your ideas. I’ve fiddled with this problem and can’t find a solution. Talk me down from the ledge.