Gary Trent Jr. opting in makes it harder for Raptors to re-sign Fred VanVleet

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 16: Fred VanVleet #23 and Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 16: Fred VanVleet #23 and Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Fans of the Toronto Raptors were pleasantly surprised to see that Gary Trent Jr. is opting in into the final year of his contract. The surprise isn’t that he’s staying. Rather, it is the fact that he didn’t opt out and get a bigger deal during free agency.

When Chris Haynes reported that the Raptors and Trent are working together to get a contract extension done by early July, it made sense why Trent opted in. He likes Toronto and wants to figure out a way that he could stay with the team long-term.

What does Trent opting in his player option mean for Fred VanVleet, who is expected to command a hefty salary? It means that it’s going to be very difficult to re-sign VanVleet in the offseason. And the reason why it will be hard to re-sign VanVleet is because of the lack of cap space that the Raptors have.

Why is it harder for the Raptors to re-sign VanVleet after Trent opted in?

The Raptors do not have a ton of cap space right now. Yes, they can re-sign both VanVleet and Jakob Poeltl and still theoretically make the math work, but the Raptors will be dancing with the luxury tax.

It was reported that VanVleet is expected to command a $30 million per year contract. That’s why it would be hard to re-sign VanVleet. Spending that much is not a great move for the franchise because you’re going over the cap for a core who will be hovering around the playoffs but won’t be close to being a championship team.

Trent is eligible to get a four-year $113 million contract extension. Poeltl could get paid around $15-$20 million per year. Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby are also eligible for a contract extension, to say nothing of Scottie Barnes.

If they give Siakam, Anunoby, Barnes, and Trent extensions while re-signing VanVleet and Poeltl, cap space and bench improvements will be hard to come by. The Raptors will be a luxury tax team for the next few years if they decide to re-sign Poeltl and VanVleet.

It’s great to see Trent coming back to the Raptors, but Trent opting in can cause a lot of problems for Toronto financially. Not only do they have four players extension eligible in the next two seasons, but the Raptors also want to re-sign Poeltl and VanVleet. Masai Ujiri might need to make some very tough decisions.

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