5 Trade targets the Raptors can now pursue after changes to the rules

A new rule for the NBA this year allows teams to use the Mid-Level Exception to receive traded players. Which players can the Raptors now pursue in a trade?
Josh Green, Dallas Mavericks and Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Josh Green, Dallas Mavericks and Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages
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The Toronto Raptors seem likely to retain Bruce Brown into the start of free agency, evaporating their cap space and making it likely that they will function as an "over the cap" team this offseason. That should allow them to find a trade partner for Brown, but on the surface it looks like the option of taking on bad money for draft capital is off the table for Toronto.

It would be, except that a new rule in the league's latest Collective Bargaining Agreement means that the Raptors have more options for facilitating trades. For years the Mid-Level Exception (MLE) available to teams could only be used to sign players, but now teams can use it to take in a player in a trade, granted that they make less than the $12.85 million of the MLE this year.

As teams around the league try to offload salary to open up space to make other moves or to avoid the luxury tax, the Raptors can use their MLE to take on a player and receive some draft capital in the process. Here are five players who could be moved by their teams this summer and would fit into the Mid-Level Exception for Toronto.

No. 5: P.J. Tucker, LA Clippers

The LA Clippers are in a unique bind this summer. On the one hand, they have an owner who has the deepest pockets in the league in Steve Ballmer and have built an expensive team without care for the luxury tax. On the other hand, the new CBA has introduced stiff penalties for teams above the second luxury tax apron, and the Clippers can't afford to stay above that level for long. Add in free agency negotiations for both Paul George and James Harden and the Clippers will almost certainly be looking to offload salary in one scenario or another.

P.J. Tucker is the most expendable contract on their books, a player who already had little to offer on offense but is aging into a less impactful defender. He is essentially dead money at this point in his career, but makes little enough at $11.53 million that he could fit into the Raptors' MLE.

One scenario could be that the Clippers simply move off of Tucker's money to help them get under the second apron and the Clippers drop him neatly onto the Raptors for a pair of second-round picks. It's also possible that they work out a multi-team deal in the event that Paul George leaves, dropping Tucker in Toronto to reduce the salary heading back to them. Either way, the Raptors benefit from absorbing Tucker's expiring contract.