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Will Fred VanVleet Flee The Raptors?

By Jeff Stinger

The Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic noted interest in getting Fred VanVleet on board if the Raptors decide to part ways with him and put the guard on the trade block. The Suns have struggled recently after losing Devin Booker to injury. Cam Johnson also picked up an injury that affected the team’s depth. As a result, the franchise dropped to 12th place in the Western Conference.

So, it’s not surprising that the Suns expressed their appeal to acquire VanVleet. The 28-year-old can attend to a shorthanded roster during and after Booker’s injury. Meanwhile, the Magic getting into this narrative is more impulsive than anything. Considering the team will receive a lottery pick in the summer’s draft, VanVleet might not fit well with a young core group.

The idea of a Fred VanVleet move to any of the teams is an interesting one. Seeing the guard work with a different system is enough to pique our interest. With that, let’s take a look at the several possibilities should the Raptors starting guard decide to take a different trajectory.

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Is Fred VanVleet A Raptors Constant?

Stagnant league value

VanVleet faces a player option next year, which he’s expected to turn down. Although the circumstances are more clouded, both sides appear open to resuming contract dialogue by the end of the season after there were no significant moves on an extension this past offseason, sources say.

The Wichita State product could have secured a $114 million deal, and by waiting, he’ll become eligible for a deal as high as $230 million over five years. That upper tier seems unlikely to happen though. And yet, VanVleet, who became only the fifth undrafted player to make it to the All-Star Game last season, operates on a sub-par deal. Anyone undrafted enters the league without much stock value, typically first earning a minimum-salary contract, where cap restrictions then confine how much players get in raises for their future contracts. It’s only fitting for there to be amplified motivation for the pivotal player in the current Raptors squad.

The 2019 NBA champion will try to secure his raise. With the Raptors having the flexibility to bypass the luxury tax next season, but are headed towards a massive 2024-25 payroll for Siakam and Anunoby each is eligible to reach free agency that summer before VanVleet’s next big deal gets to the spotlight. Will he keep playing for the Raptors if a big deal doesn’t come his way soon?

Feasible destinations

We’re not sure how Toronto will approach the trade deadline. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that the next few weeks have plenty in store for us in terms of determining the franchise’s immediate future.

As teams prepare for the Raptors’ next move, The Suns and the Magic are reportedly trying to court VanVleet away from Toronto. The guard can opt out of his current contract and could potentially make a move seamless. With averages of 18 points, six assists, and four rebounds per game this season despite struggling with his overall shooting efficiency, his two-way nature and consistency make him a solid addition to any roster today.

It’s a cloudy situation whether the Raptors would make a big move before the All-Star break. Sure, they have been through ups and downs this season. But, this is a team that can produce promising results and contends for a playoff spot.

On paper, it would be quite surprising if they pull off a big move like taking away a core player from their lineup. On the other hand, if talks of him moving to another team materialize, there are plenty of unanswered questions coming the way of the Eastern Conference side.

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