Raptors news: Fred VanVleet replacement identified, Jakob Poeltl rumors

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 30: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 30: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors might intend to lure Fred VanVleet back to town on a long-term contract, but Masai Ujiri and the rest of the front office are likely aware that retaining him and Jakob Poeltl without going into the luxury tax will be a tough task.

With rumors that the Houston Rockets are willing to make an offer in excess of $40 million per season to VanVleet, the Raptors need to make sure that they have a viable backup plan lined up. Their top option to replace him is a player that has been thriving in the postseason spotlight.

According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Raptors have identified Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent as a potential cheap replacement for VanVleet if he leaves. Vincent averaged 9.4 points and 2.5 assists per game last season before his hot streak in the postseason.

Vincent is an interesting player because he has a history of stepping up in the postseason and the ability to be productive without demanding the ball. While he is clearly an inferior player, Vincent should be a solid addition for a Raptors team that can easily transition away from VanVleet and toward Scottie Barnes.

More Raptors news:

  • According to Marc Stein in his Substack, the Raptors are expected to retain starting center Jakob Poeltl in free agency, with some expecting his contract to take him into the $20 million per season range on an annual basis. Is that too much?
  • Former Raptors coach Nick Nurse has been replaced as the head coach of the Canadian national team, with Sacramento Kings assistant head coach Jordi Fernandez becoming the replacement. Fernandez, who was an assistant with Nigeria in the past, was once a candidate to replace Nurse with the Raptors.

NBA news:

  • In a separate rumor dump, Fischer said that the Sacramento Kings and Domantas Sabonis might eventually come to terms on a new contract that pays him around $120 million in totality. After breaking the 16-season playoff drought, Sabonis has earned a new deal.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported that the Houston Rockets are not “in the running” in the race to sign James Harden. Iko also implied that Harden is on board with what new head coach Nick Nurse is going to do.
  • The Chicago Bulls may have made a misstep in the early stages of free agency, as they signed center Nikola Vucevic to a three-year, $60 million extension many were initially balking at.

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