Out of the eight current division favorites, Los Angeles is the only one that didn’t make the playoffs last season. Are higher expectations good for the Chargers? The previous two seasons they entered as AFC West favorites were 2010 and 2011, and they fell short of the playoffs both times.
Free-agent goalie Carter Hutton is rumored to be signing with the Sabres to backstop their path back to contention. No pressure! Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
On July 1, unrestricted free agency begins in the NHL. Well, officially. It’s comical how much matchmaking is done before free agency opens, like rushing into an electronics store at midnight on Black Friday and having your Nintendo Switch already bagged at the register.
The Suns’ signing Ariza was great news for the Raptors, since Phoenix looked like VanVleet’s best hope of getting an offer sheet that would have featured a balloon payment in Year 3. Instead of waiting around to see whether the Orlando Magic might have space for a similar deal in the event they chose not to match an offer to Aaron Gordon, VanVleet settled for a deal that presumably pays him the maximum $18.5 million Toronto could offer over the next two seasons.
I would have expected the Raptors to aim for a longer deal with a smaller annual salary, helping their tax situation. VanVleet’s new contract gives Toronto about $135 million committed to 12 players. Assuming the Raptors fill the last two roster spots at the minimum, that puts them about $14 million over the tax line with a bill of $27 million.
Toronto will be hard-pressed to avoid the tax entirely, which would probably require trading Jonas Valanciunas into space — not an ideal option. More realistically, the Raptors will probably look to trim around the edges. Finding a team that would take on Norman Powell’s four-year, $42 million extension would get Toronto’s tax bill to a manageable number.