The Toronto Raptors were led by a three-headed monster of Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, All-NBA dynamo Pascal Siakam, and All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet. Masai Ujiri will need to find a way to make sure all of these players end up fairly compensated for their efforts last year.
VanVleet, who became the first undrafted free agent in over a decade to be named an All-Star, has vastly outperformed what Toronto thought they were getting when he resigned with them in free agency. He’s gone from quality role player to undisputed locker room leader.
Finding a starting point guard is hard. Finding one who manages to be a tremendous on-ball defender despite a small frame and a near-elite 3-point shooter is even more challenging. Ujiri knows VanVleet needs to be a part of this team long-term, and he’s working to make that a reality.
Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said that the Raptors and VanVleet are going to discuss a potential extension this offseason. While he could be in line for a nice three-year. $89 million deal, he could end up with a four-year, $114 extension if he declines his player option. At least both sides are discussing an extension. That’s a positive.
The Toronto Raptors could extend Fred VanVleet.
VanVleet averaged 20.3 points and 6.7 assists per game while playing near-elite defense despite being bothered by injuries for large chunks of the second half. In December and January, VanVleet averaged 23.1 points and 7.8 assists per game while making 4.7 3-pointers per game.
The VanVleet extension is one of several reasons that Ujiri might be unable to splash the cash in the offseason. Gary Trent Jr. could hit the open market if he denies his player option for 2023-24, and Siakam also needs a new long-term deal. Barnes is eventually going to get paid.
Even with so many big names coming up for a pay bump, Toronto needs to ensure their fearless leader VanVleet is taken care of. In a league where perimeter shooting and defense are more valuable than ever before, VanVleet gives you both of those things in spades along with tremendous point guard play.
The Raptors won’t be able to keep everyone. That’s just a sad, unfortunate reality of the NBA’s salary cap system. Having said that, VanVleet absolutely needs to be prioritized in the extension world. Any update that involved VanVleet moving closer to a long-term Raptors deal is good for Toronto.