Could Nets target Raptors’ Fred VanVleet after early playoff exit?

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 16: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 16: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors were the only team in the Atlantic Division that did not make it to the postseason this year. Even after trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets managed to make it into the first round of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Brooklyn landed two long-term fixtures with Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson in the Durant trade, but the flaws in their roster started to show during their sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers. Spencer Dinwiddie’s poor series illustrated how they have one big hole to fill.

Dinwiddie’s stinker confirmed that he isn’t a lead point guard for a team with an eye on a championship. If the Nets make enough moves to avoid ending up in luxury tax hell (which should be easy enough given their roster), the Raptors might have a serious challenger for VanVleet.

Brooklyn was trying to pry the record-setting VanVleet away from the adaptors at the deadline, and Sean Marks’ interest has likely only increased since then. The Raptors may not be bidding against themselves here due to how dire the backcourt situation appears to be in Brooklyn right now.

Will the Brooklyn Nets take Fred VanVleet from the Toronto Raptors?

Raptors fans may not be too keen on bringing VanVleet back for what promises to be a very inflated price, but it will be very difficult for Toronto to replace the shooting, playmaking, and leadership that he brings. Likewise, teams will have a great deal of interest in someone with those qualities.

Brooklyn might be very close to the repeat offender tax, meaning that they would need to offload the contracts of Ben Simmons and Joe Harris. Luckily, the Durant trade gave them a ton of draft picks they can entice other teams with if they have to take on one of those albatross deals.

VanVleet is likely going to command a four-year contract somewhere close to $30 million per season, which is quite a hefty commitment to pay for a team that has Pascal Siakam’s looming mega-deal coming down the pike and an eventual Scottie Barnes deal coming up.

The Raptors have likely been aware of the fact that rebuilding teams like the Rockets and Magic have extended some feelers out for VanVleet, but Brooklyn might be a more attractive spot for someone who is still very committed to winning. Seeing him in Nets colors with no compensation coming Toronto’s way could be a gut punch.

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