Today we look at the most fanciful of all the scenarios -- what if Toronto just brought the whole gang, including DeMar DeRozan and Bismack Biyombo, back for another shot at it? Can they even pull that off, realistically? And how does it affect their chances of adding a starting power forward, or anything else?
We will sometimes (lightly) refer back to the previous articles, so if you missed them, you can read them here:
Sliding Doors 1: What If they both leave?
Sliding Doors 2: What if DeRozan stays, but Biyombo leaves?
Sliding Doors 3: What if Biyombo stays but DeRozan leaves?
Scenario 4: The Gang's All Here
DeMar DeRozan and Bismack Biyombo both sign to stay in Toronto
Grant: Alright, Hackett, saddle up -- we're going to try and find a way to give both these players eight figure annual raises, but somehow still have the flexibility to improve other glaring team needs!
It's a tall order, so let's start with the biggest question. We know the DeRozan contract is going to be the bigger of the two, and as constructed, the Raptors do not have the cap room to sign both guys. They also don't have Biyombo's Bird Rights, which makes it more difficult to retain him, as it means you have to use up your actual cap space.
Can Masai swing this? How much of a discount would Biyombo need to take, if the open market offers him something like 4/64?
Hackett: Bismack might get 4/64 on the open market, but he might get more. The rumour during the playoffs was 17M a year. And all it takes is one GM to offer 20M+.
For this exercise, let's say his market value is indeed 16M per year. We'll then peg two discount values - there's the more likely 4/56M deal (14M average annual value or AAV). There's also the more optimistic 4/48M deal (12M AAV), which is probably the absolute most one could hope for. Either way, this is far beyond what the team could offer using the mid-level exception, so they will need to clear additional cap room to sign Biyombo.
Grant: Right, because if they retain DeRozan, his 15+M cap hold will be sitting there taking up essentially all of their available cap space, even if they wait until later to officially ink him.
Hackett: Correct. So we know that with DeRozan's cap hold on the cap the Raptors are looking at 3.3 million in cap room (note that this was 3.6 million as recently as the last couple articles, but it turns out he earned an even bigger incentive than expected, so his cap hold is now officially bigger than we assumed). To clear enough room to sign Biz, they need between 11.2M and 13.1M in cap room (the first year values for the 4/48 and 4/56 contracts discussed above). So they need to shed between 7.9M or 9.8M in salaries. Assuming the core is staying in place, the only candidates to move out are as follows:
Terrence Ross $10M
Cory Joseph $7.3M
Patrick Patterson $6.1M
Lucas Nogueira $1.9M
Bruno Caboclo $1.6M
Delon Wright $1.6M
Norman Powell $0.9M
9th pick 2016 $2.3M
27th pick 2016 $1.0M
So, find a combination that adds up to at least $7.9M, and so long as you are willing to move them for a middling return (the market may not be particularly eager to use up cap space on guys like the ones above, with the bidding wars that will be going on). Keep in mind though, move more than two players/assets and you start to lose cap space to empty roster slot cap holds.
Grant: Terrence Ross is the clear answer to me in this scenario. With the emergence of Norman Powell, and if we're retaining DeRozan and are assuming a full year of DeMarre Carroll, paying 10.1M for a guy that's going to play 15 minutes per game isn't ideal. He's also got enough upside that you could certainly find a taker. It's worth noting that he's still only 24 years old. He's also the only guy who makes more than the 7.9M floor number you mentioned, so any other scenario would involve moving out multiple assets. I'd much rather move out Ross than a combination of Patterson/Bebe, or CoJo plus a rookie contract.
Hackett: That's the name that sticks out to me, too. Ross is locked into a reasonable deal, can shoot, and was largely irrelevant (in my mind) to the Raptors success this season. And shedding him makes enough room for either assumed salary for Biyombo.
Grant: Alright, so let's say we move out Ross and are able to retain Biyombo at one of the numbers you mentioned above. How does this affect Toronto's ability to land another significant piece via trade or free agency? Does it matter if DeRozan signs a max or takes a lower number?
Hackett: Well, no matter what either player realistically takes, there's no scenario where the team gets to chase another free agent with cap dollars after signing both players. And with Biyombo requiring cap space, you don't get the Mid-Level Exception either, just the tiny Room MLE we used last summer to sign... er, Biyombo.
Trades would break down much the same way as we discussed in Part 2. Once again, any significant salary coming in requires significant salary outgoing. But now you have fewer pieces to move out, because you either dumped Ross or a bunch of smaller salaries to clear space for Biyombo. It would be incredibly difficult to make a major trade without completely emptying the bench. That's the real cost of bringing Biyombo back - you kind of lose the ability to make a big trade.
Grant: That's a huge consideration. We all love Biyombo, but if you're forced to lose Ross just to sign him, and then Patterson, Joseph and say, Delon Wright and/or multiple draft picks just to add one other significant piece, I don't think that makes this team a better one.
Hackett: Unless, of course, you are bringing Biyombo back to be the full time starting center. Then you can move Valanciunas in a trade. I personally think that would be an incredibly bad move to make, but for the sake of completeness we should mention it.
Grant: It is something to talk about, I guess. I'm also against trading JV-Nasty, but if we did, his number for next season is roughly 14.4M, meaning Toronto could take back up to 19.4M in salary if they sent him out. This would certainly allow them to acquire a significant piece, but the targets would be very similar to the ones you'd go after if you let Biyombo walk and just kept Valanciunas. It essentially comes down to which player you prefer to be your starter, and for me, Valanciunas is the clear answer.
Hackett: If you packaged Ross and Valanciunas together, their 24.4M salary could bring back up to 30.577M, which is more than enough for a max player.
Grant: But Toronto would already have had to dump Ross to sign Bismack, in this reality. If you wanted to make that trade you'd have let Biyombo walk AND trade Valanciunas, so no go there. We are not going to be treating our centers like Daryl Morey treats point guards. There's probably a complicated way to make that logistically work, but I'll be damned if I can figure it out.
Would it matter if Toronto could magically land DeRozan at 5/110 and Biyombo at 4/48, the lowest possible numbers we've considered for both guys?
Hackett: It makes no real difference. These scenarios with Biyombo coming back are at even less risk of the team entering the tax than the "only DeRozan comes back" scenario. The team is limited at this point by its lack of exceptions and its lack of trade pieces that make enough salary to return a significant player.
Grant: A final consideration: if Toronto re-ups both these guys, how does it affect their future cap space? Kyle Lowry is likely to opt out of his deal following the season, and even with the cap rising again next year, you'd like to have some flexibility.
Hackett: Next summer (2017), the Raptors already have 38M committed, assuming Ross is the one dumped for cap space to sign Biyombo. Add in 26M for DeRozan and 14M for Biz and that makes 78M. The cap is projected at 108M, so that means about 30M in cap room, just enough for a DeRozan-level max offer. But Lowry has a cap hold of 18M and Patterson has a cap hold of 9M, so if you want to keep either player, there goes your max cap room, If you want to keep both Lowry and Patterson, then you have basically no cap room at all. Even if DeRozan takes 5M less per year, for example, or Biz takes 2M less per year, that doesn't make much of a dent. Of course, the Raptors have Bird Rights for both Lowry and Patterson, so they can re-sign them both no problem, it's just what else they can do that is limited.
Grant: That's less than ideal. Only 3M in cap space for next season if we retain those four, roughly 10M if both DeRozan and Biyombo take those big hits to their AAV. But if you just let Biyombo walk, and can still get DeRozan on that slightly cheaper deal, you're looking at about 22M in cap space. Oh, but then you'd still have Ross, so it's really only about 12M, and probably less than that if you succeed in packaging Ross out to acquire a premiere power forward.
So our final answer is "yes it can be done, but it would significantly limit your ability to trade for any other pieces and would murder your already dwindling cap space for next off-season." Good times!
Final Scenario Rankings
Grant: As mentioned, this is the last day of Sliding Doors, so here's our final scenario rankings, from most likely to least likely.
1. Scenario 2 - DeMar DeRozan stays, Bismack Biyombo leaves
2. Scenario 4 - DeMar DeRozan and Bismack Biyombo both stay
3. Scenario 1 - DeMar DeRozan and Bismack Biyombo both leave
4. Scenario 3 - DeMar DeRozan leaves and Bismack Biyombo stays
With a surprise last minute turn, Scenario 3 tumbles down into the cellar!
Hackett: I just can't envision the team keeping Biyombo if DeRozan walks. I think they'd double down and try to find max cap room in that scenario. But maybe that's just my pro-JV bias talking.
Grant: It might be, but I've got a healthy dose of it over here too. After breaking down that entire situation, it just doesn't make any sense. Stupid Bird Rights.
That just about does it for us.Thanks very much for reading, Raptors fans, and just remember: it's only good speculation if it's completely unfounded and irresponsible.