1. Raptors’ management invested too much in free agency
Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster invested quite a bit this offseason to acquire and keep talent. They lost Fred VanVleet, but resigned Jakob Poeltl, and saw Trent opt into his final year. It’s also been reported they are working on an extension for him. The contract signings didn’t stop there, as Jalen McDaniels and Dennis Schroder were added to the roster.
The Raptors are usually hit or miss to keep their own guys in free agency, much less add two quality players in addition. Management seems intent on letting the core of this roster have at least one more opportunity to prove itself in 2024.
The Toronto Raptors could win with Pascal Siakam.
With all the returning players and the new contracts added in free agency and around the draft, Toronto is spending around $163 million, approximately $3 million under the luxury tax level. This fact alone signifies a team willing to compete with what is a complete roster already. Even if management would like to reduce salary and have more cap flexibility, they can gauge the progress of the team and make cost-cutting decisions to secure the future before the trade deadline.
The team’s won/lost record will determine what happens with Siakam. If the Raptors keep him for a playoff run in 2024, and Siakam were to make an All-NBA team in 2024, he could resign with the team on a five-year deal worth around $58 million per season or the equivalent of 35% of the team’s cap space.
Finally, trade partners may not want to give up Siakam’s true value, as he has stated he will not sign an extension with any team he’s traded to. In other words, only teams who believe Siakam will make them an NBA champion will likely have the stones to make this deal.
A trade this summer for a market of so few teams is way too early since general managers already know they will have to enter a bidding war to retain Siakam beyond 2024. The trade deadline is more appropriate, but only if the Raptors have a losing record should they consider moving “Spicy P.”