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Raptors extend qualifying offer to Fred VanVleet and others

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In a move surprising no one, the Raptors have extended a qualifying offer to Fred VanVleet and some other players. Though they also left one name off the list.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors announced this Wednesday afternoon that they have extended qualifying offers to Fred VanVleet, Malcolm Miller, and Nando De Colo (yes, still). As the tweet below states, this means Toronto keeps their restricted free agent rights. Other teams can try to sign them, but the Raptors can match the offer and that’s that.

The case for keeping VanVleet is obvious, and we’ve made it a million different times in a million different ways (here’s the latest case). Now, you could say the Raptors are overvaluing a back-up point guard, but you’d also be underrating FVV’s impact on the team. As was proven throughout the 2017-18 season, VanVleet is a valuable player, and it looks as though the Raptors will do what they have to to re-sign him.

I’ll liberally quote now from Daniel Hackett’s Raptors cap primer to explain the VanVleet situation:

The Raptors can match any offer sheet given to VanVleet. Those offer sheets are limited because of VanVleet’s Early Bird Free Agent status (less than three years with the team) and Restricted Free Agency (the combination of which is referred to as the Gilbert Arenas provision). As such, any deal offered to VanVleet above the Mid-Level Exception (projected to start at $8.6 million) is limited to the value of the MLE in the first two seasons. The offer can rise dramatically after that to the value it would have been if not for that restriction.

So, in VanVleet’s case, in theory he could be offered his maximum salary — which is 25 percent of the cap, just over $25 million as a starting salary, rising to $26.5 million, $27.8 million, and $29.0 million after that. But due to his Gibert Arenas status, the first two years are forced to be $8.6 million and $9.0 million instead. So his maximum deal would progress as follows:

2018-19: $8.6 million

2019-20: $9.0 million

2020-21: $27.8 million

2021-22: $29.0 million

That’s a fairly crazy offer, but it demonstrates the mechanism of any deal greater than the full MLE. In this extreme case, a team would need $18.6 million (the average value of the deal) in cap room to offer that deal to VanVleet. If the available cap space is lower, the final two years just drop in value.

Note that the Raptors do not need to use their full MLE to match the offer — their Early Bird Rights allow them to match the offer without using another exception. This is important, as the Raptors are already very close to the tax apron and if they use their full MLE they would activate a hard cap. This would not allow them to keep VanVleet unless they shed significant salary elsewhere, as they are already projected to be $4.0 million above the hard cap line of $129.1 million.

Read the whole post here.

Meanwhile, Miller’s deal is still just for $50,000 of guaranteed money, which is, as you can imagine, not much of a concern for the Raptors. They can extend him the qualifying offer, and if he signs it, keep a decent end of bench wing. If Miller doesn’t sign it, Toronto can see what other teams will offer him and then match that — if they feel it is imperative to keep Miller around.

Then there’s Nando De Colo, which, to me, is just a funny situation. Take it away Hackett:

Technically, the Raptors have another restricted free agents’ rights. Nando de Colo, who is playing overseas, is still a restricted free agent of the Raptors. But like VanVleet, his qualifying offer is very low, so there is little risk in keeping him restricted for if he ever decides to come back to the NBA.

Again, read the whole post here.

The bottom line with De Colo is, he won’t sign any deal and he’ll just stay with CSKA Moscow, but the Raptors can at least be in control of his destiny if he suddenly decided to come back to the NBA.

The sad thing of note here is who isn’t listed in the Raptors’ list of qualifying offers: Lucas Nogueira. By not offering the Brazilian big man the QO, it means Toronto is letting him become a free agent, which strongly implies they are fine with letting Bebe walk off into the sunset.

Of course, there’s a chance — given that Bebe’s value may not be much higher than his current $4.1 million qualifying offer — that Toronto could be the team to sign him to a new deal. There’s a chance they’re letting him stroll into free agency because they assume no other team in the NBA (or in the world) will want to pay him that kind of money. If that’s the case, if the Bebe market is indeed depressed (which it no doubt is today), Toronto could conceivably re-sign him to a brand new contract worth some lower dollar figure.

It’s possible — but it does not seem likely.

So, if you’re counting at home: the Raptors are likely going to do everything they can to re-sign Fred VanVleet. They could make some kind of effort to retain Malcolm Miller on a minimum-level deal. Nando De Colo is not coming back to the NBA. And Lucas Nogueira is probably not long for Toronto.