Raptors Rumors: Toronto now expected to trade expensive veteran by the NBA Draft

The Toronto Raptors have a big decision to make by the NBA Draft, and the latest report is that they will pull the trigger and trade Bruce Brown
Bruce Brown, Toronto Raptors
Bruce Brown, Toronto Raptors / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Most of the decisions that NBA teams have to make are bunched into one summer stretch of about two or three weeks, starting with the NBA Draft in late June (June 26th and 27th this year) and reaching past the start of NBA Free Agency on July 1st into the first few weeks of the month. In that stretch teams will make all of their draft picks, sign the vast majority of their free agents and make a myriad of decisions on trades, extensions and contract options.

It's that last category that is of particular importance to the Toronto Raptors this year. On June 29th, two days after the draft and two days before the start of free agency, the Raptors have to decide whether or not they want to exercise a $23 million team option for veteran wing Bruce Brown. Exercise it, and they are required to either pay him that money or trade him to another team. Decline it, and he walks away in free agency for nothing.

It's a decision that will have plenty of shockwaves for the rest of their summer plans. If they decline his option, keep the 19th pick, hold onto Immanuel Quickley's $12 million cap hold and renounce the rest of their free agents (Gary Trent Jr., Garrett Temple, Jordan Nwora, etc) they will have around $27 million in cap space. If they exercise the option, that disappears in a flash, and they will be better off staying over the cap next year and not using cap space at all.

Do the Raptors bring Bruce Brown back?

In general, keeping a valued veteran player and trying to trade him for value is the route to go rather than letting him sign with another team for nothing in free agency. The difficulty the Raptors will face if they go that route is finding the right trade suitor, especially when Brown is making $23 million and teams over the tax apron can no longer aggregate salaries to match an incoming player.

Exercise the option without a trade lined up, and the Raptors could be on the hook for that full $23 million for a player who was a terrible fit with the team down the stretch last season. Hold onto him through the start of the season and Toronto risks not finding a suitor by the 2025 Trade Deadline, at which point they'll have ended up paying him a premium to play this year and then walk away.

The latest reporting suggests that while the Raptors do expect to pick up his option, they will do so with a plan in place to trade Bruce Brown -- not at the deadline or even the end of the offseason, but right away at the start of the offseason. If it's not the NBA Draft, it will be the first days of free agency. If Toronto picks up the option, it's because they have a trade lined up.

That's the report from Doug Smith of The Toronto Star, and it fits well with what the Raptors are likely to do. Trading him quickly eliminates the risk of waiting it out and adds a player or players who can start building chemistry with the young core right away. It also eliminates their plan to use cap space, but the list of realistic free agent targets is likely slim anyway.

If news reaches the Raptors that a prominent free agent is interested in Toronto, then it's possible they go in a different direction. Right now, however, the Raptors seem poised to do what they could not at the Trade Deadline and find a trade partner for Bruce Brown. Once they do, the offseason will begin in earnest.

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