My recent summer pieces explored the possibilities that existed with the current roster and in free agency in 2016 and in 2017. Here's a quick look at how the Jonas Valanciunas extension affects those numbers.
These numbers will depend heavily on the structure of Jonas Valanciunas' contract. Some of it we know, some of it we don't. Here's what we know: JV signed a 4 year extension worth $64 million, with a player option in the fourth year. None of that is incentivized in spite of initial reports.
What we don't know is whether the deal is $16 million each year, or backloaded or frontloaded. With summer 2016 and 2017 as key free agency periods, I'm going to assume that the deal is heavily backloaded (full extent possible is 7.5 percent of the first year of the extension in raises per year).
That puts his 2016 salary at about $14.4 million, so if he has a flat deal instead, the Raptors could have up to $1.6 million less cap space than described here. It's also possible he has a frontloaded deal, though very unlikely, in which case he would eat up an additional $2 million in cap space ($3.6 million above my assumption). The backloading assumption also puts his 2017 salary at about $15.5 million (so a flat deal would eat an additional $500 thousand in cap room, while a frontloaded deal would eat an additional $1.2 million).
In my projections articles, I posted numbers purely directed at having maximum cap space in 2016 (for a Durant-type situation) or 2017 (for one of many possible max level guys). In 2016, the starting point was $37 million to use to either sign free agents, or re-sign the Raptors' own free agents. Turns out, Bismack Biyombo has a player option for 2016, which it seems likely he would opt out of, so we'll assume that here. That clears another $3 million or so. Factor in some roster spot holds and that starting point gets adjusted to $39.5 million.
Then we add JV's extension amount. That, in our backloaded contract assumption, means removing $14.4 million of that useable cap space - leaving about $25.1 million in cap space - exactly what is needed to sign a 7-9 year veteran to a maximum contract. What a crazy random happenstance, huh?
In actuality, the numbers line up about $50 thousand short of a max deal. And it is important to note that I've assumed the 10th overall and 20th overall picks for the Knicks/Nuggets and Raptors respectively. If either of those picks end up higher, cap space disappears quickly (for example, if the 10th pick becomes the 5th pick, $1.1 million disappears; if it becomes the 2nd pick, $2.3 million disappears).
Of course, there's another side to the predictions as well, which is that the cap will probably not come in at exactly $89 million as projected. If it comes in low, that's a problem. But the upside is that this year's cap came in $3 million above the estimates, so with luck the same could happen next season, leaving plenty of wiggle room.
Also note that again we are assuming that to sign any lanky superstars who may happen to be available next summer, the Raptors are letting DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Biyombo, Luis Scola, James Johnson and Nando de Colo walk. That's a big part of why my projections articles had a much greater emphasis on 2017 than 2016.
You may recall that there was a guideline for keeping maximum cap room in 2017 - all long term deals not already on the team had to stay below $40 million in 2017. If you managed that, you had the $30.5 million in cap room required for a 7-9 year veteran maximum salary. JV's extension value (again with that backloaded contract structure assumed) eats up $15.5 million of that, leaving $24.5 million to use.
That $24.5 million could represent a near-max deal for DeMar DeRozan; it could represent a newly signed Nicolas Batum at, say, $18 million, plus maybe a value Terrence Ross contract at $6.5 million. Or it could be Kyle Lowry's $18 million cap hold plus that value Ross contract. Or Patrick Patterson's $11.5 million cap hold, plus a $12.5 million signing somewhere (maybe Ross and James Johnson combine for that much).
So you can see the scenario outlined for 2017 is very much alive, and is a little better than I projected earlier this summer. (I didn't think JV's extension would be so reasonable.)