Toronto Raptors: What are the chances Fred VanVleet leaves this summer?

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Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

With the world on lockdown, the Toronto Raptors can start planning for the offseason. In doing so, their top priority should be locking up Fred VanVleet long-term.

The Toronto Raptors and the rest of the NBA face uncertain times right now. The NBA has discussed the possibility of resuming this season in one central location. But for the Raptors, a level of uncertainty will follow them into the offseason.

Several players are set to hit free agency. The Raptors may bring back one of Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka. Ibaka has expressed a desire to re-sign with the Raptors. However, the team will likely have to look elsewhere to find a backup centre.

Bobby Webster’s name is starting to come up more and more. Webster was rumored to be a candidate for the Chicago Bulls’ top job. The Bulls have reportedly hired Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas.

The Raptors’ front office is probably busy right now watching video and preparing for the upcoming draft. But another key issue that needs to be addressed is Fred VanVleet’s free agency.

A lot has been written about VanVleet’s journey from an undrafted player to shutting down Steph Curry in the NBA Finals.

This season, VanVleet has averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. VanVleet is hitting almost 39 percent of his shots from three-point range (on seven attempts per game). VanVleet also started all 48 games he played this season.

There is no question VanVleet has become a key contributor to this Raptors’ squad. At 26 years old, VanVleet is just entering his prime. He is also the heir apparent to Kyle Lowry, arguably the greatest Raptor of all time.

VanVleet has proven that he can be a starter in this league. He is on record stating that he loves the City of Toronto. The Raptors now just need to decide how much money they are prepared to commit to VanVleet to keep him here.

Most teams are keeping their powder dry for the summer of 2021. But seven teams could have significant cap space in the offseason. That list includes the Hawks, Hornets, Cavaliers, Knicks, Suns, Pistons and Heat.

The first three don’t make any sense for VanVleet. The Hawks have a potential star in Trae Young. The Hornets committed big money to Terry Rozier last summer. They also found a keeper in Devonte’ Graham. Meanwhile, the Cavs selected ball-dominant guards in back-to-back drafts. It doesn’t make any sense for them to commit more resources to another point guard.

That leaves four teams who could look to pry VanVleet away from the Raptors.

The 2020 draft is guard-heavy. LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, Cole Anthony, and Tyrese Haliburton are all likely to be lottery picks. Plus, Theo Maledon, Kira Lewis Jr. and Nico Mannion all project to be taken in the first round. At least one or two of the remaining teams should end up with drafting a point guard, thereby eliminating at least some competition for the Raptors. But let’s review the case for each team anyway.

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