The Toronto Raptors are just a few days away from a franchise-defining free agency period, as names like Fred VanVleet could test the open market. Masai Ujiri has been open about saying that he didn’t enjoy last year’s team, but he still thinks this core is good enough to win now.
According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN, the Raptors are prioritizing bringing back both VanVleet and Jakob Poeltl in free agency despite the possibility of both of them coming for $50 million per year in salary between them in 2023-24 and beyond. That is quite an expensive gamble to take.
Bringing back Poeltl makes all the sense in the world, as he cost quite a heavy price to acquire at the trade deadline, fills a need, and helped the Raptors’ defense play at a near-elite level. VanVleet is the question mark, as the timelines between the two parties don’t seem to be matching up.
The Raptors need to be made aware of the fact that retaining VanVleet on this team has some serious flaws that could completely ruin Toronto if the worst-case scenario comes to light. A very vocal section of this fanbase getting infuriated won’t even crack the top three reasons for concern.
3 reasons the Raptors’ plan for Fred VanVleet won’t work.
3. VanVleet is expensive and aging
The Raptors’ front office seems to think that VanVleet is an ascending asset that will continue to age like a fine wine. Just become other smaller point guards like Steph Curry and Chris Paul have managed to age relatively gracefully doesn’t mean that VanVleet is going to follow a similar path.
VanVleet’s decline may have started last season, as he followed up an All-Star appearance with a field goal percentage below 40% and several late-game mistakes that cost Toronto wins. His on-court production dipped, and he showed off that production less frequently.
Toronto Raptors PG Fred VanVleet is aging and injured.
On top of his less dominant statistical numbers, VanVleet is fresh off a very rough two-year stretch in which he has constantly struggled with injuries. It was also clear during the last few games of the season that he was playing through some injuries that limited his effectiveness.
Injuries do not suddenly stop happening once players get older, especially with smaller players that don’t have the physical stature needed to thrive into their 30s. Investing in VanVleet at this stage of his career is just one bad break away from some serious disaster.