Let’s get right down to it. For today’s NBA trade deadline bonanza, the Raptors made a trade!
The Raptors send: Bruno Caboclo
The Kings send: Malachi Richardson
Bruno Caboclo was in the final year of his rookie scale contract. He made $2.45 million, and was due to be a restricted free agent this summer, assuming the Raptors qualified him. Due to tax concerns, they probably were not going to qualify him, letting him go to unrestricted free agency.
Malachi Richardson is in the second year of his rookie scale deal, having been taken 22nd overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. He makes only $1.5 million this season, and is locked in for $1.57 million next season, with a team option for 2019-20 (which will need to be picked up or not this summer).
Leaving aside the players, both of whom were basically dumped by their teams who had no further interest in them as prospects, there are salary implications to this deal.
The Raptors shed roughly $947,000 in salary in the trade. Prior to the deal, they were $890,000** clear of the tax — now they sit $1.84 million clear. That’s a good deal more wiggle room, especially when you consider Kyle Lowry’s pending bonuses that, if all goes well (say, the Raptors make the Finals), could be $1 million (or more, if he makes an All-NBA team or the Raptors win the championship, which they definitely will).
**You’ll note this is about $70,000 more than the previous post had it. Serge Ibaka was suspended for a game early in the season, and half his lost wages don’t count against the tax, which I wasn’t including before. [Ed. Note: this is hyper specific!]
But if we assume that $1 million is the most that he is likely to earn from here on out, that leaves $840,000 to play with under the tax line. Which means the Raptors can be players in the buyout market without venturing into the tax. Bad teams with veteran players on expiring contracts often buy them out to allow them to go sign with contenders. The minimum salary has scaled down to only $515,000 at this point, so the Raptors can easily fit a minimum signing.
Since the Raptors do still have their Bi-Annual Exception (BAE), they could also use part of that to offer the full $840,000 of flexibility to outbid another team looking to use the minimum. Or if they are willing to risk the tax in the case of a Finals appearance, up to $1.34 million. Or the full $2.75 million left on the exception (it decreases in value as the season goes on) if they don’t care about the tax at all.
And This Summer?
This move actually simplifies this summer a bit. The team will be deep in the tax, so were unlikely to qualify Bruno (or Lucas Nogueira), meaning they were going to need to fill out the roster with minimum contracts in all likelihood. Well, Richardson’s $1.57 million salary is not far off from the minimum salary of $1.5 million next year, so they’ve basically filled one of those roster spots for the same price with a recent first round pick with upside. And as much as the Kings are tossing Richardson aside, I’d trust Masai Ujiri’s talent evaluations over the Kings front office by several nautical miles.
There’s still plenty to consider with regards to the tax situation this summer, and we’ll cover that a lot in the spring when trades are an option again, but for now, it’s enough to say that this deal really didn’t change anything on that front.
One more note: with Bruno being waived by the Kings, there’s nothing stopping the Raptors from offering him another contract come the summer, though they can’t offer him one now having just traded him. So let’s not proclaim the Bruno Caboclo experiment over just yet. He is, after all, almost through his two years away from being two years away...
Veteran Buyout Candidates
And focusing back on this season, who might the Raptors look to add with that extra bit of wiggle room they added?
We have to wait to see who gets bought out. But there are a lot of expiring veteran contracts on bad teams that many expected to move at the deadline and are now very likely to be bought out if they ask for a chance to play meaningful basketball.
An incomplete list:
Those all look like interesting names that might help the Raptors in a deep playoff run — though I’m most partial to the return of Vince myself.
What do you think of the trade? Who do you think the Raptors should chase as a veteran buyout free agent?