NBA rumors: Fred VanVleet unlikely to return to Raptors, “very desired” in FA

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 31: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 31: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

One of the Toronto Raptors’ three potential big-name free agents has already returned to the club, as Gary Trent Jr. has already picked up his $18.5 million player option for the 2023-24 season. The status of Fred VanVleet, however, might be tougher for Toronto to handle.

VanVleet is not only going to command a hefty salary that could end up in excess of $30 million per season, but he may also have some very wandering eyes for other teams around the league with extra cap space. Is a departure on the horizon for the former Wichita State star and undrafted legend?

Matt Moore of The Action Network, appearing on JD Bunkis’ podcast, said that VanVleet is viewed in a very high regard by the rest of the league. As such, he believes that it is doubtful VanVleet will return to the Raptors for 2023 and beyond.

“I would be pretty surprised at this point given what I’ve heard if Fred VanVleet were to return given that he’s got pretty significant offers,” Moore said. “He’s very, very desired on the market.” There is a very good chance that VanVleet has played his final game with Toronto based on the latest rumblings.

NBA rumors: Fred VanVleet may not return to Toronto Raptors.

VanVleet has become one of the most polarizing figures in recent Raptors history, with many in the fanbase taking sides firmly in the “keep him” or “get rid of him” camps. Even with such an exorbitant price tag, both sides have legitimate arguments to be made.

The pro-VanVleet fans will point to the fact he was an All-Star just one season ago, remains the best passer on the team by a wide margin, and is a vocal leader that will be hard to replace in the locker room. The free agent market isn’t buzzing with cheaper alternatives, either.

The VanVleet haters will mention that he had one of the worst shooting seasons of his career and is going to be owed a ton of money for a player that has been hurt for large parts of the last two seasons. His ball-dominant and methodical style of play could be a pain, especially late in games.

With Trent officially back for next season and the Raptors in a position to use their first-round pick on a dynamic guard who could eventually fill the void, the idea of a VanVleet departure has never looked more possible.

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