Fred VanVleet’s decision to decline his $22.8 million player option with the Toronto Raptors for next season will kick off what promises to be an exciting NBA offseason.
VanVleet, 29, is widely regarded as one of the best point guards available on the market this summer.
As a result, multiple teams have expressed interest in his services over the past few months.
Three squads, in particular, are viewed as frontrunners for VanVleet’s services.
As noted by ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, VanVleet is “an immediate target of teams with cap space and several contenders who’d welcome discussions on sign-and-trade scenarios with Toronto.”
One of those teams is the Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. is dealing with something of a perilous point guard situation at the moment. D’Angelo Russell is a free agent, and despite a solid regular season, he floundered late in the playoffs.
That has eroded to some degree the relationship between Russell and LeBron James, expediting the need for a replacement.
VanVleet has been linked to the Lakers a lot in recent weeks. A sign-and-trade involving L.A. and the Raptors could prove to be a win-win for all sides.
The Houston Rockets are another team to keep an eye on. Although the front office has made its pursuit of James Harden no secret, there is a decent chance he simply returns to the Philadelphia 76ers.
If that occurs, Houston has a Plan B in place. But if that fails as well, VanVleet is a great Plan C. He could bring championship pedigree and veteran leadership to a group that is looking to develop a winning culture behind new head coach, Ime Udoka.
The Phoenix Suns are another team that has been linked to VanVleet for months now. They need a replacement for 38-year-old Chris Paul. And while it’s tough to replace an all-time great at his position, VanVleet is a reliable playmaker who doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 13, 2023
Last year, VanVleet ranked in the top 10 as far as assists-to-turnover ratio – a testament to his strong decision-making with the ball in his hands.
Obviously the possibility of VanVleet returning to Toronto lingers, but it is increasingly looking like his time with the Raptors is up.
Where will VanVleet be playing come the beginning of the 2023-24 NBA season? Time will tell.