The Raptors didn’t give up much at all to get Lou Williams in trade last summer, but that’s likely to change if they want to keep him on the roster beyond this season.
Williams won Sixth Man of the Year for averaging 15.5 points in 25.2 minutes per game as a reserve, and the timing couldn’t have been better for him personally, considering he’s in the final year of his deal and will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Teams are expected to get a little nuts with contracts in advance of next season, because even if they overpay for players now, those deals will look like bargains once the salary cap spikes in a big way over the next two seasons. Williams says he wants to remain in Toronto, but it’s unclear if the Raptors will offer enough to make it worth his while.
From Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca:
“[Staying in Toronto] would be ideal for me,” he said. “Just the culture that they’re building here, just the identity that this team and this town has, I really want to be a part of it. I look forward to it. I don’t want to say hopefully we get something done, I’m really positive that we will get something done. I don’t see why not, at this point. So I just look forward to the future here.”
Of course, a lot could change between now and July, when NBA free agency officially opens. It takes two to tango – the Raptors would have to be willing to pay up in order to keep Williams from moving south and with the salary cap set to skyrocket the following summer, the market figures to be an unpredictable one.
If another team believes Williams can provide value as a starter while playing heavier minutes per game, it may be willing to come with a high-dollar offer that scares Toronto away.
But Williams has been a reserve for essentially all 10 of his NBA seasons, and if that’s the role he’ll maintain, the Raptors should have no trouble extending an offer that’s to Williams’ liking, and one that’s in line with what he could earn by jumping ship to play somewhere else.