The Toronto Raptors are projected to have a payroll around $50 million for the 2011-2012 season. The Raptors are a lot better off now than they were last season when they paid out nearly $70 million in salary.
Even though Toronto has plenty of flexibility now, the direction that the league's financial situation is heading isn't going to help Toronto. With the current rules, the Raps could have expected to spend around $15-$20 million on free agency this offseason, or they could have waited a year and had as much as $30 million to spend in 2012. Unfortunately, the league wants to shrink teams' flexibility by imposing a hard cap.
Many mistakenly label Toronto as a "small market," but the reality is that even though the Raptors haven't spent like contenders recently, they are a team which is willing to spend big if they feel they can compete (i.e. Jose Calderon extension, Hedo Turkoglu signing, Jermaine O'Neal addition, etc). Therefore, a "hard cap" won't benefit Toronto all that much because we may be forced to spend less when it'd be in our best interest to spend lots.
Another proposed change to the CBA is an amnesty clause which would allow Toronto and all teams to waive a player. This exception would definitely help teams like Los Angeles and Orlando, who are stuck with a lot of dead weight on their Rosters, but Toronto has worked very patiently to remove most of its bad contracts already (we didn't use the Bosh exception!). Giving all teams an option to waive a bad valued player when Toronto had just done so the hard way is a total slap in the face. Sure we can still make use of the tool, but it will benefit other teams that we're competing with much more than it could benefit us.
Moving forward the Raptors have a decent roster with some valuable talent, but knowing Bryan Colangelo, the team will still look at every trade possibility that could somehow improve the team. Every player is unique in his own way, but there isn't a player on the team that can't be flipped for someone of better value.
Players like Bargnani, Calderon, Johnson and Kleiza are all fairly expensive, while players like Barbosa and Jerryd Bayless will require resigning next summer, and that could also effect Toronto's flexibility down the road. I'm not suggesting trading any of these guys for cheaper players is mandatory, but an extra $4 to $5 million a year could go a long way when you're trying to lure top tier free agents.
Here we'll be looking into trade scenario's that could possibly improve the team while also helping Toronto financially.