The Toronto Raptors had to say goodbye to a franchise icon on Friday night, as Fred VanVleet chose to sign a three-year, $128 million max contract with the Houston Rockets. VanVleet won a title during a tremendous seven-season run, but he chose to start a new adventure.
The Raptors did not twiddle their thumbs and wait very long to replace him, as they agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract with former Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder.
Regardless of what you thought of the moves, it is inarguable that the scale of VanVleet’s contract and his replacement sent shockwaves throughout this fanbase.
Raptors fans, NBA Twitter react to Fred VanVleet, Dennis Schroder
VanVleet leaving officially wraps up one of the best careers in franchise history. An All-Star and NBA champion, VanVleet is not the 13th highest-paid player in the league. He had one last chance to earn a big deal, and he bet on himself once again.
VanVleet’s best on-court skill is distributing the ball without turning it over. Last year, Houston turned it over like there was no tomorrow and lacked ball movement.
Some fans were skeptical of the Schroder signing, wondering if he is viewed as the new starting point guard or a bench sparkplug that can help fix a lackluster unit. With Gary Trent Jr. about to sign a big extension, the bench seems likely for the German PG.
One area where Schroder should be an upgrade over VanVleet is in the clutch. While VanVleet ranked as one of the four worst shooters in crunch time, Schroder was No. 10 in the league in terms of field goal percentage. Scottie Barnes ranked highly as well at No. 8 overall.
VanVleet’s $42.8 million average annual value is higher than every point guard in the league not named Steph Curry. Even stars like Kyrie Irving and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are making less than VanVleet despite the fact he is coming off a season where he shot 39% from the field. Luka Doncic’s $43 million barely tops him.
Sam Quinn of CBS joined in with the chorus of Raptors fans who were not pleased with how the trade deadline was handled. He labeled the Raptors’ decisions as poor asset management, as multiple stars have now left for minimal, if any, return for Toronto.
The Raptors may have signed a proven point guard to replace VanVleet and avoided getting thrown into salary cap hell, but some fans will need to take some time before they can properly mourn the loss of a player that has meant so much to this organization over the years.