While Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors twiddled their thumbs following the trade deadline acquisition of Jakob Poeltl, the Phoenix Suns decided to shake the entire sports world to its core when they acquired superstar Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets.
The Suns’ desire to compete for multiple championships and the uncertainty surrounding VanVleet’s potential impending free agency could lead to some mutual interest in free agency. Toronto needs to be careful about paying him, as Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. also need new contracts relatively soon.
Phoenix has Chris Paul on the roster, but his age is so concerning that Phoenix will need to find some sort of replacement in the near future. VanVleet may be the best option in the market, and the new ownership group may try to go big in order to secure his signing.
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Suns are expected by league personnel to pursue VanVleet if he hits unrestricted free agency in 2023. While he may not be the best fit for the Raptors in the eyes of some at this point in time, he is still a lethal scorer and quality leader.
Toronto Raptors rumors: Suns interested in Fred VanVleet.
The volatile VanVleet is averaging 19.7 points and 6.6 assists per game this season, though he has been averaging over 24 points per game in the last few weeks. VanVleet’s 3-point shot is still an effective weapon that Phoenix can utilize to great effect when Durant gets double-teamed.
On one hand, the Raptors may not be ready to lean on either Scottie Barnes or Pascal Siakam as a primary ball-handler next year, prompting the need for VanVleet’s retention. On the other, VanVleet is going to cost nine figures, and that will limit what Toronto can do in terms of building a bench.
If the money is equal, however, Phoenix is a much more favorable situation. On top of the fact that their tax situation is much more favorable, they will be a ready-made champion for years to come while Toronto tries to win with a more gradual approach to roster building.
VanVleet is hitting free agency at the right time, as a generally week class around him and his recent All-Star appearance could help him land one last big deal that compensates him well for the rest of his career. Be it Phoenix or Toronto, he will have a strong market.