For the Toronto Raptors to make the NBA playoffs next season, they need to get help wherever they can. With no picks in this year’s draft and a tight financial situation, new general manager Masai Ujiri will have to take a creative approach to improving the team this summer.
With ESPN's Marc Stein breaking the news that the Raptors are declining John Lucas III's team option, the Raptors now have approximately $71.4 million in salary committed to their roster. However, if they decide to use their amnesty provision on either Andrea Bargnani or Linas Kleiza, they could make sure one of those contracts don’t count against their cap, thus freeing up space for free-agent signings.
Whether the Raptors try to cut costs to avoid the luxury tax or decide to pay the price for an improved roster, GM Masai Ujiri has two options he can use to find role players in free agency: the mid-level exception and veteran’s minimum. While these two options don’t constitute a large amount of money (the MLE is $5.15 million and the VM is $1.2 million), there are plenty of potential contracts out there that are both favorable and realistic.
The Raptors have done a good job of keeping their core intact. However, sometimes the difference between a playoff team and a lottery-bound one is a few good role players who are available on the cheap.