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Raptors Salary Cap Update as the team heads to the Draft

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The most exciting season ever has come to a close. Could this off-season be the most exciting as well?

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

With the season over, and the Raptors making the most progress in the post-season that they've ever made, there are lots of reasons for optimism -- including a top ten pick in the upcoming draft.

There are also many issues highlighted by the fairly thorough dismantling of the team at the hands of the Cavaliers, to be addressed in some part this summer. And there are the questions about the key free agents the Raptors are at risk of losing this summer, including DeMar DeRozan and Bismack Biyombo.

So let's take a look at what the Raptors have to work with right now, and what that means for the summer.

2016 NBA Draft

First up, the draft. This is where many franchise changing trades are made, and with the Raptors sitting on two first round picks in this draft, they have ammunition to make something happen.

It should be noted that the Raptors are actually free to make trades with all but two teams right now. As soon as teams are eliminated from post-season play (and the regular season is over) they can start trading again even though the trade deadline has passed. But the reality is that most trades occur at or around the draft, so we'll focus on that.

Back to those draft picks. The Raptors actually have a huge arsenal of draft picks that could be included in a trade at the draft. There is a rule preventing teams from being without a first round draft pick in consecutive future drafts -- so if you want to trade your 2018 draft pick, you have to have a first rounder in 2017. That only applies to future draft picks though. And draft day trades technically only get finalized after the draft is done. So teams are free to trade their 2016 pick on draft night, and also trade their 2017 pick, as only the 2017 pick would be a "future" pick.

What does this mean for the Raptors? Well, they have two picks in 2016 (#9 and #27), their own pick in 2017, and the LA Clippers' first rounder in 2017 as well. All of which they can trade at the draft, if they have a blockbuster move planned. Not that they necessarily should look to move them all anyway, but it is good to know they have the option if the right deal turns up.

Anyway, trades at the draft take place in the current cap year (2015-16). So the cap is still at the $70 million level it's been all year, and the salaries of players for the purposes of matching salary in trades are the same salaries they've had all year. It is not until July that next year's cap and player salaries will apply. As such, here is what the current salary situation looks like for the Raptors right now.

DeMarre Carroll
$13,600,000
Kyle Lowry
$12,000,000
DeMar DeRozan
$10,050,000
Cory Joseph
$7,000,000
Patrick Patterson
$6,268,675
Jonas Valanciunas
$4,660,482
Terrence Ross
$3,553,917
Luis Scola
$2,900,000
Bismack Biyombo
$2,814,000
James Johnson
$2,500,000
Lucas Nogueira
$1,842,000
Bruno Caboclo
$1,524,000
Delon Wright
$1,509,360
Norman Powell
$650,000
Jason Thompson
$245,177
Ronald Roberts
$75,000
Axel Toupane
$25,000
Michale Kyser
$25,000
Shannon Scott
$25,000
Nando de Colo
$1,900,000


Total committed salary: $73,169,511

Salary Cap: $70,000,000
Luxury Tax: $84,740,000
Tax Apron (Hard Cap): $88,740,000

Note that since the Raptors did not use the full mid-level exception last summer (they used cap space and the Room MLE) and did not receive any players in a sign and trade, they are not limited to the hard cap. They also will not pay luxury tax -- tax payments are decided at the end of the regular season. The only reason to note the tax level is that there are different trade rules in terms of matching salary for teams with total salaries above that level versus below it.

I've noted in bold the players who are not on expiring (or potentially expiring via an option) contracts and can therefore be included in trades at the draft. I've also highlighted Ross and Valanciunas in italics because although they can be traded, they have poison pill deals (they recently signed rookie scale contract extensions) and it is complicated to do so.

Quick how to trade poison pill deals crash course: the team trading the player (say, Ross) can only use their actual salary ($3.6 million for Ross) in their salary matching calculations. However, the team receiving the player must be able to absorb a larger amount, the average of their current salary and the salary they are extending for (in Ross' case, this would be the average of his $3.6 million salary and the $31 million he is owed over 3 years of his extension, so $8.6 million). This makes matching salaries in both directions difficult.

But that aside, the highlighted players are the assets the Raptors are able to move at the draft, along with their bevy of draft picks, if they want to find an upgrade before free agency starts in July. Speaking of which...

2016 Free Agency

We should have an idea what the situation looks like this summer as well, as any draft day trades will impact that. Here is the Raptors' salary situation this summer as it stands now. This assumes both Bismack Biyombo and DeMar DeRozan opt out of their contracts this summer, both of which are foregone conclusions.

Jonas Valanciunas
$14,382,024
DeMarre Carroll
$14,200,000
Kyle Lowry
$12,000,000
Terrence Ross
$10,000,000
Cory Joseph
$7,315,000
Patrick Patterson
$6,050,000
Lucas Nogueira
$1,921,320
Bruno Caboclo
$1,589,640
Delon Wright
$1,577,280
Norman Powell
$874,636


Cap projection: $92,000,000

That totals $71.0 million committed salary (including two roster spot cap holds) as a minimum for this summer. Meaning if all free agents are let go, and no draft picks are signed, the team would have $21 million in cap room. Note that a maximum free agent like (in all likelihood) DeMar DeRozan or Kevin Durant will be eligible to sign for about $26 million.

Adding cap holds for draft picks (nos. 9 and 27) brings the total to $73.2 million committed, or about $18.8 million in cap room.

Here are the cap holds for the various free agents for whom the Raptors have rights of some kind. Those rights allow the team to go over the cap to sign the free agent, to various contract amounts depending on the type of rights each player has.

DeMar DeRozan
$15,225,000
Luis Scola
$3,480,000
Bismack Biyombo
$3,376,800
James Johnson
$3,250,000
Nando de Colo
$1,900,000
Jason Thompson
$1,136,731


To keep the rights to any of these players, their cap hold has to be kept, which eats into the available cap space. So if the Raptors want to keep DeRozan's full Bird Rights and be able to sign him to the maximum contract he will likely get this summer, they have to keep his cap hold on the books. So the cap space shrinks from $18.8 million to $3.6 million. You may note that this is essentially no cap space at all. That's the situation the Raptors find themselves in -- right up against the cap with their current contracts and DeRozan's cap hold. So unless a trade is made, there will be practically no cap space available to chase free agents.

Which leads us to Bismack Biyombo. As has been covered everywhere by now, the Raptors do not have his full Bird Rights, or even his early Bird Rights. They have only his player rights (the same sort of rights they have for Luis Scola and Jason Thompson). Those sort of rights only allow the team to offer a very tiny raise on the previous year's salary. Biyombo will certainly not be re-signing to such a small amount, so the Raptors would need to clear cap room if they wanted to sign him.

It should be noted that the Raptors have Early Bird Rights for James Johnson and Nando de Colo. So if they wanted to sign either player (and kept their rights) they could go over the cap to do so. There is a limit, though -- either a 75% raise over the player's previous salary, or a 4.5% increase on the league average salary the previous year. This season's average salary is estimated at $5.7 million (the exact amount won't be known until after the moratorium ends) which means both players can be offered a deal starting at up to $6 million.

I think that's a good start for any off-season prognosticating anyone wants to do. As always, feel free to offer up any questions, concerns or commentary -- if something doesn't add up there's either a reason or a mistake.

Salary numbers per basketballinsiders.com.