1. Fred VanVleet, Houston Rockets (3 years, $128 million)
I mean…let’s be honest about that VanVleet contract for a second. The only point guards making more per year than VanVleet, now the 17th-highest-paid player in the NBA, are Steph Curry and Damian Lillard, who remain in a completely different tier regarding their status within the NBA.
VanVleet makes sense from a basketball point of view, as he will be able to help Jalen Green and Amen Thompson in the backcourt while boosting an offense that was first in turnovers last season. The Raptors could not have played ball with Houston when the going rate is more than what Kyrie Irving got per year.
Fred VanVleet left the Toronto Raptors for money in Houston.
Fans have the right to be upset about Masai Ujiri potentially mismanaging the team’s assets and losing VanVleet for nothing. However, if Ujiri ended up giving VanVleet such a preposterous short-term deal, a big chunk of those people would have been demanding serious regime change.
VanVleet’s departure seems like it was best for all parties. Not only do the Raptors now have the means to turn the team over to Scottie Barnes while remaining financially flexible, but they also got to see a franchise icon in VanVleet get paid an absolutely obscene amount of money elsewhere. All aboard the Dennis Schroder train.