Raptors officially lose Fred VanVleet to Rockets with huge overpay

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) /

The Toronto Raptors entered free agency needing to make a decision on point guard Fred VanVleet. While he would command a hefty salary and struggled to fit in with the roster’s construction at times last season, Masai Ujiri seemed committed to building a winner with him in free agency.

Unfortunately, VanVleet has attracted the attention of other teams across the NBA, with the Houston Rockets emerging as one team that could potentially snipe him away by offering him a short-term deal with a very high average annual value. VanVleet is aging, so this offer made sense to accept.

The Rockets were in a protracted fight with the Raptors for VanVleet’s services, with Toronto offering him a longer deal of four years and $120 million. Unfortunately for those who have grown accustomed to VanVleet in Toronto, he decided to call time on his Toronto career after seven great seasons.

VanVleet signed a three-year, $130 million deal with the Rockets, making him a max contract player and Ime Udoka’s first big signing in Houston. The Raptors couldn’t compete with a Houston team that was offering such a ridiculous contract, and they saw him walk as a result.

Toronto Raptors star PG Fred VanVleet signs with Rockets.

VanVleet, who is just one season removed from being named an All-Star, averaged 19.3 points and 1.8 steals per game last year while setting a new career-best mark with 7.2 assists per game. His health is problematic; he has missed 50 games in the last three seasons with injuries. Will he be able to stay on the floor longer in Houston?

VanVleet was identified early on as a veteran leader who can help a Rockets team with a solid young core of Amen Thompson, Jabari Smith, and Jalen Green. Having him in the mix will ensure Houston’s young guns play cohesive basketball. He can still score, defend, and pass the ball well.

The Raptors do not have a point guard at the moment, though they do have some mid-level exception money lying around that can be thrown at replacements. If they want to look internally, Scottie Barnes might be given a platform to shine as the primary ball-handler and initiator.

Toronto would not have won a championship without VanVleet in the fold, and his accomplishments will echo throughout the Raptors’ history books. Losing him is tough for some, but there was no way the Raptors could afford to compete with the offer Houston made.

Next. 7 worst free agents in Toronto Raptors history. dark