The Toronto Raptors may not be one of the teams in the NBA that can essentially give the best players in the league blank checks, but Masai Ujiri and the ownership group haven’t been shy about spending money to compete for and win championships. Look no further than the Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam contracts.
Toronto needs to get ready to splash the cash in the near future, as many of their best players are entering free agency or are extension eligible. If fans want to know what an excellent example to follow looks like, the Golden State Warriors spent Saturday locking up their young pieces.
The Warriors signed Jordan Poole to a four-year, $140 million contract in order to have him take on the Klay Thompson role once the future Hall of Famer leaves town. Not deterred by the luxury tax, Golden State again went for broke by signing another key role player.
In addition to giving Poole a nine-figure contract, Andrew Wiggins agreed to sign a $109 million extension. Joe Lacob is close to spending $500 million in contracts. The Raptors may not be a team that is willing to dip into the luxury tax, but they might have to if they want to keep this team together.
Will the Toronto Raptors pay all of their stars?
The Raptors have only been in luxury tax territory once since 2004, which is a sign that paying that extra money is just something MLSE doesn’t do. However, times are changing. Ujiri knows this, as it may be the only way to keep most of this starting five together.
VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. could hit free agency soon, and both will require nine-figure deals to stay. Siakam may become supermax eligible soon, and Scottie Barnes will likely be on track for a considerable rookie scale extension. Don’t forget about O.G. Anunoby or Precious Achiuwa.
Over the last few years, the Ujiri regime has been solid with regards to either keeping their young talent (VanVleet, Siakam, Anunoby) or trading them for quality players on more efficient deals (Norman Powell for Trent). In an East that has quickly become a gauntlet, Toronto needs to keep its core intact.
The Raptors may not have the spending power of the Warriors, but they have one of the best starting lineups in the league. With a paper-thin bench and the unfortunate reality that they are not going to be a big fish free agent destination, Ujiri and MLSE need to come up with the money to pay all of these household names.