Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors have to enter the offseason knowing that the rival New York Knicks will be among the most active teams in the league due to their surplus of cash to spend. All of their offseason moves appear t be centered around getting the cap space needed to sign Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson.
After parting ways with their first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft in addition to the contracts of both Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks in a trade with the Pistons, New York is all-in on Brunson. They even hired his father as a coach. The contract he is expected to earn is still eye-watering.
Brunson is widely expected to be offered a contract that pays him $110 million over four years, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. While the salary cap has increased over the last few years, that still shows that the loyal VanVleet is on one of the most economical deals in the league.
VanVleet is in the middle of a four-year, $85 million contract with the Raptors. While he was just a bit unproven as a scorer when he signed that deal, the fact that Toronto was able to nab an All-Star player for almost $30 million less than what the Knicks will pay Brunson shows that this is another Masai Ujiri masterclass.
Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet is a steal compared to Jalen Brunson.
Brunson is a solid player, having averaged 14.6 points and 4.2 assists per game on 51/39/82 shooting splits. Where VanVleet separates himself is the extraordinary defense and ability to fill it up from beyond the arc, which contributed heavily to his All-Star campaign.
When you’re getting paid close to $30 million to be the starting point guard of the Knicks, you better come in with some VanVleet-like production. Considering how FVV helped the Raptors win 48 games while being named an All-Star, that’s a tall order for a player like Brunson.
The Knicks will be better than they were last year, as RJ Barrett will keep getting better and Julius Randle will not be as ineffective. However, they are putting a concerningly large number of their eggs in the Brunson basket thanks to this contract.
The Raptors have been willing to go all-out in a trade or in free agency to find a player they like, but they won’t pay a guy $110 million when he has just one season of truly elite production. The VanVleet deal looks like a steal, as the Raptors have a to-shelf player at a no-so-premium price.