Two NBA teams are targeting Raptors' VanVleet in free agency: report

Jan 17 2023, 8:22 pm

Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet has found himself in the news once again.

This time, it’s from a report by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who linked the 28-year-old VanVleet to a pair of teams interested in potentially signing the one-time NBA All-Star should he hit free agency this summer.

“The Suns and Magic have emerged as potential free-agent suitors for All-Star guard VanVleet, league sources say,” Charania wrote in an article earlier today.

VanVleet has averaged 18.2 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.3 rebounds in 36 games this season. He is currently on year three of a four-year deal with the Raptors, worth $80 million over the course of the deal.

But he has a player option for the 2023-24 season, allowing himself to hit unrestricted free agency and sign with any team (including the Raptors) for a larger contract.

The NBA trade deadline is set for February 3.

There’s basically three paths forward for VanVleet: he’s traded before the trade deadline, he remains a Raptor through the trade deadline but opts for free agency this summer, or he remains a Raptor and either opts in for his player option or re-signs a new long-term deal in Toronto.

With the possibility to re-sign a larger deal this past offseason, VanVleet disputed reports there was a formal offer from the Raptors, but said there was a mutual decision to revisit the contract discussions after the season.

TSN’s Josh Lewenberg originally reported “turned down a contract extension valued at roughly $114 million, the maximum Toronto could offer at the time, according to a source.”

VanVleet acknowledged the contract discussions, but denied an official offer being put on the table.

“I understand we’re in the era of taking two sentences out of an article and making it a tweet and then all of a sudden, I get 300 messages last night that I turned down 114 million,” VanVleet said on January 8. “Which is not the case. So it’s a little misleading. And, you know, I’m disappointed that it’s come out. I don’t want it to be a distraction.”

VanVleet has spent his entire NBA career in Toronto, signing with the Raptors as an undrafted free agent in 2016 out of Wichita State.

He currently sits fourth in franchise history with 1931 assists, seventh with 494 steals, and ninth with 5409 points.

He was a key member of Toronto’s 2019 NBA championship roster, and made his first All-Star game in 2022.

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