Toronto Raptors: 4 “bad contracts” worth trading for this offseason

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors and Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors
Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors and Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages
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The Toronto Raptors could go into this offseason ready to be movers and shakers in free agency, tossing around money at free agents to try and improve the roster right now to make a run at the playoffs. With as much as $46 million available to them they could likely overpay for a player or two to bring them on board.

There's another option available for their cap space, however, and that is taking on salary in trades. Specifically, the Raptors can serve as a landing spot for overpaid players whose teams need to move in order to crack open salary flexibility. For their services, the Raptors could pick up valuable draft capital that they would not be adding if they sign a player.

At the low end that may mean taking on a nominal expiring salary, and at the high end it would mean multiple seasons of working around an underwater contract. The bigger the ask the bigger the return, and if Toronto can be patient in rebuilding the roster there could be a lot of benefits. For more valuable players, taking on salary instead of sending back matching salary lowers the cost of adding a valuable player.

Let's look at four players whose teams may be looking to trade them to move off of their money and what each would bring the Raptors on the court and on the books.

No. 4: De'Andre Hunter

Generally, the rule of thumb with a young forward is that you can't hand them a bad contract coming off of their rookie deal. The Atlanta Hawks traded up to draft De'Andre Hunter as a two-way forward to build upon, but injuries and offensive ineffectiveness have hampered his development and impact, and now even his defense is plateauing. With three years and $70 million left on his contract it's hard to say Hunter is anything but a negative value on his deal.

If the Raptors are in no rush to compete, adding Hunter and getting back a first-round pick would make a lot of sense. He is not an excellent fit with Scottie Barnes since neither are knockdown shooters, but he deserves a shot in a different ecosystem to get back on track. His archetype is so valuable it's not out of the question that he has a rebound year and the Raptors can trade him for value or at least as a neutral asset in another year.