Last week, the league announced a new television deal that will double the annual broadcast rights fee compared to the current agreement. There are various components involved in translating this increase in basketball-related revenue to an increase in the salary cap figure, but what we know for sure is that there will be a significant jump in that number at the start of the 2016-17 season, when the new television deal kicks in.
How this impacts the Raptors remains to be seen, but one specific player of interest will be DeMar DeRozan, who is currently signed to a four-year, $38 million contract and can opt out and become an unrestricted free agent after the 2015-16 season. While DeRozan might not command maximum-level money when he hits the open market, he will be in line for a hefty raise, something that our own Daniel Hackett covered here.
DeRozan was asked about this last week by Eric Koreen of The National Post:
In 2017, it is like the two sides will haggle over their share pie, as it is becoming more and more caloric. In 2016, though, players will get to cash in a little early. Even if DeRozan cannot negotiate a maximum-value contract, which would possibly earn him more than US$25-million annually, it would not be a surprise to see him double his current salary.
"Oh wow," DeRozan said when told about the numbers. "Got to wait for that, though.
"I’ve always been the type that if I work and do whatever I’ve got to do on the court, everything will speak for itself. I’ve never been the type of guy where I wanted to be this type of player [so I can] get this type of money. I always felt that if … I do everything I need to do on the court, all of that will come."
DeRozan has improved by leaps and bounds since entering the league, and is one of the best examples of the perception of a player's contract changing over time (Amir Johnson is another). Last season, DeRozan averaged career highs in points, rebounds, assists and minutes played per game. With the increase in usage, DeRozan wasn't more efficient from the field -- his 42.9 percent field goal percentage ranked as his second worst shooting season -- but he did get to the line eight times a game, with his previous career high being 5.3 free throw attempts during the 2011-12 season.
In the seven game series against Brooklyn, DeRozan got to the line a remarkable 79 times during the series, making him a plus on the offensive end despite shooting 38.5 percent from the field in the series.
So, while DeRozan is an above average player at his position, and an important part of this Raptors team as currently constructed, he's still flawed in some aspects, enough so that it would be hard to see him as a max-level player.
But the jump in the salary cap means there will be an adjustment in how each level of free agents are viewed in terms of total dollars. You could argue that DeRozan might not be worth $20 million annually, but how much a player is worth -- aside from a LeBron James, or Kevin Durant -- is entirely dependent on how they fit within the particular team.
If the Raptors move forward with this current core of Lowry, DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas (who will both be due for raises soon), with the escalating salary cap, it might make sense for DeRozan to be paid double what he's making now, perhaps even more.
There are several factors that will determine what the exact price tag is to retain DeRozan if he opts for free agency in two years. First, the team who will be shelling out the money for him will be paying for DeRozan the player in two years time, who will still be under 30 years old and theoretically be entering his prime.
Second, DeRozan has continually improved since entering the league. If that trend continues, if he comes a better two-way player, a more efficient shooter from the field, or if he adds a consistent three-pointer to his arsenal, his value to the Raptors and any team hoping to sign him completely changes.
Even if nothing much changes to DeRozan's performance level in these next two seasons, the price to retain him could simply escalate depending on how the free agency market plays out. The shooting guard position is relatively thin at the moment, which would make someone like DeRozan extremely valuable.
Everything is relative in this league, especially when it comes to assigning a portion of the cap to a particular player. DeRozan and many other players at his age and skill level are set for a raise, simply due to the changing size of the pie. The percentage of the total salary cap amount they take up may only increase slightly, but the actual dollars may surprise a few people, including the players involved.