With him fully expected to opt out of the final year of his deal with the Toronto Raptors, Fred VanVleet 2023 free agency has almost officially begun. The Raptors’ point guard was one of the best point guards last season, and he’s certainly earned every penny he’s made.
VanVleet signed a four-year, $80 million extension with the Raptors in 2020. Now, VanVleet’s contract projection could have him cheating on the $25 million-a-year cap hit given the fact that he’s never stopped improving.
Fred VanVleet Free Agency 2023
But where could he land? Which team might be a better fit for his talents, and more importantly, who would be willing to pay him what he wants to pay? Let’s take a deep look at the market and answer all these questions and more.
5 Phoenix Suns
Whatever happens this summer, it’s become apparent that the Phoenix Suns will need to move on from Chris Paul in the offseason. Paul is a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest point guards in the history of the beautiful game, but he’s unreliable in the postseason, largely because he’s rarely healthy that time of year.
It’s unfortunate, but the Suns’ title window could be closing right before their eyes, and a lot will have to do with not having a solid backup point guard, or even one that can stay healthy. VanVleet comes with a championship pedigree, and he could also play the ball in small-ball formations, with Devin Booker sliding to the three.
The Suns lacked depth when they traded for Kevin Durant, so paying big for another player might not be the smartest choice at this point. But with a new owner in town, there could be more than a lot of cash.
4 Toronto Raptors
VanVleet’s free agent status doesn’t mean he no longer wants to do anything with the Toronto Raptors. We’ve seen it happen time and time again around the league. it’s just business. He’s already established himself as a fan favorite, and why go through all the baggage that comes with moving?
Fred Van Vleet is one of the leaders and veterans of the team. Masai Ujiri has hinted that he could sign another big contract when his time comes, and he would be wise to at least try to honor his word by keeping him while he can.
The Raptors will no longer have Nick Nurse calling the shots. And while the reports didn’t point the finger at anyone, there were rumors of a possible rift between him and some players. Maybe her leaving is just what Freddy needed to think twice and decide to stay.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are always looking to get better. The bright lights of Hollywood, the Southern California lifestyle, and the chance to play with LeBron James and wear the Purple and Gold jerseys are always attractive on their own.
Rob Pelinka has worked his magic since taking over as GM, so you better believe he can find a way to make the numbers work. VanVleet would be a huge step up from D’Angelo Russell, and he could also play off the ball while LeBron pulls the strings on offense if that’s the case.
The Los Angeles Lakers are always looking to bring in top players, and LeBron always somehow manages to get people to take a pay cut. He’s no Kyrie Irving, but he’s definitely more dependable, reliable, and an even better defender.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
Likewise, the Los Angeles Clippers may also offer some perks that come with a move to Southern California. They may not have the championship pedigree of the Lakers, but they will be breaking new ground soon and need stars to entice people.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can’t seem to stay healthy, so the team will have to leave no stone unturned to find more firepower. Russell Westbrook has been fine in the few months he’s been there, and they reportedly want to bring him back, but he’s not exactly the best fit for Tyronn Lue’s system.
Having VanVleet on the court would give them another shot, both for himself and others. He could help them stretch the floor with his three-point shooting, and he’s a much better point guard than Westbrook.
1 Miami Heat
In one of the strangest developments of the season, the Miami Heat were unable to make a deal to bring in another star because Pat Riley was asleep and unable to seal the deal. It won’t happen to him again and you can bet your house on it.
The Heat have been looking for another star for a long time and they need to get better at the point guard position. Kyle Lowry isn’t getting any younger, so why not replace him with someone who has already done it in the past?
Jimmy Butler is a fearless competitor and he will do his best. So imagine what he can do with a better cast around him, and that’s more than enough reason for the Heat to try to make a run at Fred VanVleet.