Toronto Raptors: The case for and against signing OG Anunoby to a contract extension this offseason

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#3 of the Toronto Raptors in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on January 04, 2020 in New York City. Toronto Raptors defeated the Brooklyn Nets 121-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Entering the league, OG Anunoby was often compared to Kawhi Leonard. Anunoby has taken Leonard’s place in the starting lineup and now the Toronto Raptors must decide how to deal with Anunoby’s future.

The NBA world is still trying to figure out if and when it is going to reopen for the season. During this downtime, it makes sense to take a look at some of the most important questions facing the Toronto Raptors this offseason.

A number of key players are set to be free agents. This includes Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Chris Boucher. The Raptors would like to keep VanVleet. But as arguably the top point guard on the market this summer, he will have a number of suitors once free agency starts.

In addition to decisions on free agents, the Toronto Raptors must decide whether or not to sign OG Anunoby to a rookie-scale contract extension.

Under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, players entering their fourth season under a rookie contract are eligible to sign a rookie-scale extension. This rule only applies to former first-round picks. Teams have until the day before the season starts to agree to terms on a new contract.

If the incumbent team and their former first-round pick cannot agree to terms on a new deal, then that player can become a restricted free agent. Assuming the incumbent team extends a qualifying offer then they have the right to match any contract offers that the player receives following his rookie contract.

In general, the maximum amount that a team can offer is 25 percent of the salary cap. This figure can be increased if the player has been named to an All NBA Team, MVP or Defensive Player of the Year.

Last summer, Pascal Siakam, Ben Simmons and Jamal Murray all signed new maximum contracts starting at 25 percent of the salary cap. These extensions will start at the beginning of the 2020-21 season.

In addition to those three, Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield, Dejounte Murray, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince and Domantas Sabonis all agreed to new contracts with their respective teams. As a result, a significant number of potential restricted free agents were taken off the market and further weakened the 2020 free agent class.

It is unusual that such a high number of former first-round picks would sign contract extensions. With nearly one-third of those eligible signings new deals it was almost double the previous season.

In 2018, only five players received rookie-scale extensions: Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Myles Turner, Larry Nance Jr. and Justise Winslow. Similarly, the year before only four players signed extensions: Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Gary Harris and T.J. Warren.

Entering the offseason, there are at least two players guaranteed to sign a rookie-scale extension: Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell. A few others are likely to get new deals in De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo and Jonathan Isaac. Beyond that it is a lot of question marks.

For the Raptors, they have to decide how much they are prepared to commit to Anunoby at this stage of his career. There is no doubt that the Raptors want to lock Anunoby up long term. However, there are a number of factors that must be considered before the two sides agree to terms on a new contract.

The chief concern, as is generally the case in a salary cap driven league, is money. The Raptors are restricted in terms of how much they can spend in order to build a championship caliber team. Committing too much money to Anunoby could impact their ability to make other moves down the road.

As such, let’s examine the case for and against signing Anunoby to a contract extension this summer.

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