Pass or Pursue: 3 key Toronto Raptors free agents in 2023 offseason

CLEVELAND, OHIO - FEBRUARY 26: Jakob Poeltl #19 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - FEBRUARY 26: Jakob Poeltl #19 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 08: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors(Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

PG Fred VanVleet

The Fred VanVleet discourse has completely flipped after an All-Star appearance last season. VanVleet has taken a fair share of criticism from much of the fanbase and was often scapegoated for the Raptors’ struggles this season. Prior to the season, VanVleet was reportedly offered a massive nine-figure extension, but mutually agreed with the front office to wait. The Raptors may have dodged a bullet with this decision.

VanVleet’s numbers look solid, as he averaged 19.3 points, 7.2 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. Though his efficiency has never been great, they look even worse this year as he shot just 39% from the field and a career-low 34% from 3. Despite his struggles this year, many teams will likely have interest in the veteran point guard, and he’ll likely get a hefty contract, possibly one that sends him to a different team.

The Toronto Raptors should part ways with Fred VanVleet.

The Raptors shouldn’t pay the contract VanVleet will command in free agency. Toronto currently holds the 13th pick in this year’s draft and has been consistently connected to guards such as Nick Smith Jr, Keyonte George, Cason Wallace, etc. Perhaps they see a VanVleet replacement within their team already and could give full-time point guard duties to Barnes?

Nostalgia aside, the Raptors should have cheaper, younger options to pursue at point guard this offseason. VanVleet will always be remembered for his heart, peskiness, and big-time moments. However, paying a 29-year-old guard coming off a bad year is a good way to welcome financial problems down the line.

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