A pair of sizable Raptors traded player exceptions will expire this weekend if Toronto doesn’t make a trade today or tomorrow. As our list of outstanding trade exceptions shows, those TPEs are worth $11.8MM and $6.125MM.
As we explain in our glossary entry on the subject, traded player exceptions can be used to acquire one or more players whose salary fits within the amount of the exception. The over-the-cap Raptors wouldn’t have to send out any salary if they were to acquire a player whose salary fits within one of those exceptions.
The Raptors created these two trade exceptions in a pair of salary-dump deals last July. The $11.8MM exception was generated in the trade that sent DeMarre Carroll to the Nets last July 13, and will expire if it’s not used today. The smaller exception, which was originally worth $7.63MM and was partially used in February to acquire Malachi Richardson, was created when Toronto sent Cory Joseph to the Pacers last July 14. It will expire if it’s not used by the end of Saturday.
Traded player exceptions can be a double-edged sword for a team like Toronto. The in-the-tax Raptors don’t have any cap room and can only offer free agents the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.337MM) or the minimum salary exception, so their TPEs look like a helpful alternate route to acquiring a player or two. However, given how far they already are over the luxury-tax threshold, the Raptors will be reluctant to add significant salary to their books, since the cost would be exponentially higher due to projected tax penalties.
Most trade exceptions ultimately go unused, so we shouldn’t expect the Raptors to strike a deal today or tomorrow. The team has been increasingly linked to Kawhi Leonard, but that appears to be a result of league-wide speculation rather than any concrete reports indicating Toronto and San Antonio are actually engaged in discussions on a potential Leonard trade. Kawhi’s $20MM+ salary wouldn’t fit into either of the Raptors’ TPEs anyway, though some other Spurs contracts would.