There will be time later to address what Lucas Nogueira’s season may look like for the Raptors in 2016-17. Our player previews march on apace. Today, though, I’d like to address the other afro-sized issue in the room: what of Nogueira’s contract option?
For the record: our man Bebe stands to make $1,921,320 this season. The Raptors have until October 31st (oooh, spooky) to decide whether or not they want to pick up the team option for next season (2017-18) at a price tag of $2,947,305. Not a huge number, but still — a cost.
If the Raptors decline the option, Bebe becomes a free agent next summer and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Er, I mean, I assume. Realistically, it signals Toronto is ready to pass the backup centre mantle officially to Jakob Poeltl. This timeline also suggests the Raptors already know exactly what they have with Nogueira today, know there is no point in spending any more time and resources on him in the future, and figure there’s no trade value to his name either. (A dark timeline indeed.)
If the Raptors pick up the option, Bebe will be with the team for another year before becoming a restricted free agent in the summer of 2018. (Or they could potentially offer him a contract extension beforehand.) This ties up some cap space on a player who has yet to show he can play a day-in-day out role on an NBA team, but it gives the Raptors the most control over the situation. Nogueira’s been a professional basketball player for some time now (since he was 16-17!), but at 24 we’re still not sure how he’ll actually fit on the Raptors. The tools are there -- massive length, quickness, good hands -- which makes it hard for Toronto to just walk away from the guy.
(I'll note here that the Raptors are actually in this same situation with Bruno Caboclo and Delon Wright. Given the time already spent with Bruno, it seems extremely likely the Raptors will see the development curve through with him right to the end. And obviously Delon, fresh of a solid rookie season, is just getting started in Toronto. He'll be back.)
So, in the usual spirit of armchair GM that we like to foster here, I turn to you, the reader. What should the Raptors do with Nogueira in the next two weeks?