The Toronto Raptors are operating on a knife edge as the 2023 offseason starts to kick into high gear, as they could lose two of their starters in Gary Trent Jr. and Fred VanVleet. Both of them are likely to hit the open market, with VanVleet having declined his player option and Trent likely to follow.
The Raptors need to retain some parts of last season’s team, as they lack the funds needed to make such an astronomical overhaul of the roster. Still, Toronto will have to swallow some very difficult pills if they truly want to bring their starting backcourt back to town.
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, VanVleet’s projected contract is going to surpass three years and $90 million. That is an exorbitant price tag for VanVleet after the season he just had, and it doesn’t sound like bringing back Trent is going to be a much more economical deal.
Fischer also hinted that Trent is likely to command upwards of $20 million per season. With projected starting center Jakob Poeltl also in line for a deal that could pay him around $20 million per season, Toronto will need to splash the cash to keep their old team together.
Values for Toronto Raptors’ guards Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr. revealed
At his best, VanVleet is an All-Star point guard with terrific passing skills and a penchant for taking and making big shots. At his worst, he is an oft-injured, unathletic player that slows the offense down to a crawl and takes some of the worst shots you will ever see. Will contenders be interested in that?
Trent is an interesting evaluation. While he is clearly the type of player Toronto has been lacking in the last few seasons, the fact that he was moved to the bench multiple times last season may be an indication that he doesn’t have a home in the starting lineup. Is that worth paying for?
The Raptors could theoretically bring all three of their free agents back, but that would essentially mean they are out of cap space they can use to improve their roster. Running it back would get fans extremely irritated, as they need to see some sort of change.
Masai Ujiri’s next few moves might define his tenure with the Raptors, as he needs to cut out the dead weight while keeping the team viable. The VanVleet/Trent dichotomy will go a long way toward determining if he can accomplish that.