The Cavs and Raptors should be expected to “take long looks” at soon-to-be restricted free agent Cory Joseph, tweets Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. The Spurs can match offers for the Toronto native with a qualifying offer of nearly $3.035MM, though they already have a backup point guard on a long-term deal in Patty Mills, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe points out, and Tony Parker signed a three-year extension that kicks in next season. Still, Spurs coach/president Gregg Popovich expressed hesitancy today to take playing time from Joseph, complimenting the 23-year-old’s tenacity, notes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter links).
It’s not the first time Joseph has impressed Popovich with his drive, though the Rich Paul client told McDonald a few months ago that he didn’t even ask his agent about a rookie scale extension when he was eligible this past offseason, figuring the team wouldn’t give him one. McDonald speculated when he wrote in January that it would be tough for San Antonio to afford Joseph this summer, considering his increase in minutes and production, though Joseph’s role has regressed since he filled in as a starter when both Parker and Mills were injured in December. The Spurs have Joseph’s Bird rights, though he’ll presumably be down the list of priorities with Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Marco Belinelli among the other Spurs set to hit free agency.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has pledged to pursue Canadian players, so it makes sense that he’d at least consider signing Joseph. Toronto has a chance to open up cap space, with only about $49MM in commitments for next season. The Cavs have even less guaranteed salary on their books, but that doesn’t include money for four of their five starters, including LeBron James, and they seem poised to zoom into luxury tax territory. So, Cleveland would have a tough time ending up with Joseph unless the team used the $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level exception or convinced him to take the minimum, though James and Joseph share the same agent.