The Toronto Raptors traded guard Leandro Barbosa to the Indiana Pacers for a second-round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Barbosa, an unrestricted free agent this summer, was set to come off the Raptors’ books on July 1. But by making this move now, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo instantly added $7.6 million in cap flexibility.
And why does that savings matter?
Toronto — prior to this trade — was approximately $4.3 million under the salary cap. By moving Barbosa’s $7.6 million tag, the Raptors now have about $12 million to spend. But the key is that this money can be spent before the sweepstakes begin in free agency.
Thus, Colangelo can be active at the end of the season or on draft night where he could pursue potential transactions with big-ticket players before other teams try to join the party on July 1.
Based on current salary structures, Toronto, Cleveland, and Sacramento will have the most money to spend before free agency begins league-wide in the summer.
In the short-term, to keep up with the NBA’s minimum payroll number, the Raptors will have to sign one or two players to 10-day contracts or sign a player outright for the remainder of the season.
If Colangelo had kept Barbosa and let him come off the Raptors’ books when his contract officially expired, the team would have had potentially $10.5 million in cap space.
Again, that would have all gone down on July 1 though — when every other team is hitting the market and looking to spend and deal. The Raptors now have a chance to get a jump start.
Plus, in theory, if the Raptors decide to use the Amnesty Clause this summer, they could make a play for a big-time player prior to July 1 with the $12 million in cap space they now have and then be active in free agency as well.
So there are now a lot of options for Toronto. And bringing back Barbosa as a free agent may be one of them. The door on the Brazilian Blur is not necessarily closed.
At the end of the day, the Raptors acquired more cap space and gained valuable days in which to (potentially) spend that money as well. Plus they added a second-draft pick, giving them two for the upcoming draft.
In all likelihood, the Raptors would not have re-signed both Barbosa and Bayless. Now they can truly evaluate Bayless — at the point or shooting guard — and determine if he’s going to be a part of their future. He’s a better defender than Barbosa, but can he give the kind of scoring punch off the bench the veteran provided in most games?
Or is he a guy that could eventually take the reins at the point?
This trade with the Pacers was not a salary dump or a white flag, it was a transaction that created and preserved as much cap flexibility as possible. It was all about keeping the ‘future’ in mind.
We’ll see, very soon, how that future unfolds.