Fred VanVleet backs Scottie Barnes amid Kevin Durant questions

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 26: Fred VanVleet #23 and Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 26: Fred VanVleet #23 and Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors were at the center of some of the offseason’s most-watched trade sagas. With Kevin Durant reportedly wanting out of Brooklyn and the Raptors in possession of more than enough assets to get a deal done, Toronto seemed like a reasonable destination for KD.

The Raptors were generally unwilling to trade for Durant. Not only would they have to give up years of draft capital and multiple starters, but Scottie Barnes was reportedly a player that Brooklyn was demanding in trade negotiations. Unsurprisingly, the Raptors did not trade Barnes away.

VanVleet and the rest of the team likely believe that the group they have now is good enough to compete for a championship in the near future. In an interview with a former Toronto teammate, VanVleet stood up for Barnes and what the reigning Rookie of the Year can be down the line.

On the latest episode of former Raptor Serge Ibaka’s “How Hungry Are You?” YouTube show, VanVleet said that he would not be interested in trading Barnes away to acquire Durant. While you wouldn’t expect VanVleet to come out and confirm that he is fine with dealing away Scottie, it’s nice to see the team’s unofficial captain take this stance.

Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet wouldn’t trade Scottie Barnes for KD

While Barnes has struggled with injuries and a less efficient offensive game in his sophomore year, there are reasons to be excited about what he brings to the table. He’s a much better shooter from deep than he was last year, and his assists have shot up to over five per game.

While getting Durant would obviously be a godsend for this team, the Raptors have enough firepower on this team to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference without making such a drastic move. Barnes, who recently recuperated from his various ailments, is chief among those solid tertiary options.

VanVleet touched on a variety of topics on this shot, including ripping Chris Broussard for his much-criticized description of Toronto as a city and digging into the tough loss in the Disney bubble. VanVleet also insinuated that the Raptors could have added a few more rings to their trophy case if No. 2 had stayed.

A Durant trade was always going to be an extremely unlikely scenario, but comments like this from VanVleet could go to show that the locker room has full confidence in the group they have at this moment. FVV knows that watching Barnes hoop in that black-and-white jersey would be a nightmare.

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