The Toronto Raptors welcomed back familiar faces like Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam at their annual Media Day festivities, but familiar presence and de facto team leader Fred VanVleet was nowhere to be seen. VanVleet signed a max contract with Ime Udoka’s Houston Rockets.
While VanVleet is ready to undertake the challenge of turning one of the most moribund franchises in the league over the last few years into a winner, he hasn’t completely forgotten where he came from in the NBA. VanVleet is reminiscing about his old team.
“Those guys are family,” the 29-year-old VanVleet said, via KMBE in Houston, “Those relationships will be life-long.” According to VanVleet himself, the culture that Toronto has built a champion on the back of was the toughest thing to leave behind.
“I play with my heart, and I love hard, and just how committed I was to being a Raptor, the pride I took in winning a championship, being there and playing for that organization,” VanVleet added. “Definitely a tough decision to make to leave that.” Time will tell if he can thrive in his new digs.
More Raptors news
- After missing all but eight games last season due to a toe injury, veteran forward Otto Porter Jr. joined the team in training camp and practiced without any limitations. The Raptors seem to be banking on the idea of Porter coming back, remaining healthy, and playing a role in fixing the team’s lack of 3-point shooting.
- John Hollinger of The Athletic believes the Raptors will easily win more than the 36.5 victories Las Vegas has set their over-under line at. Hollinger cites the fact Toronto won 41 games last season despite all their issues, lost the inefficient VanVleet, and played much better after acquiring center Jakob Poeltl.
- The James Harden vs. Philadelphia 76ers war has reached a brief period of detente, as he has reported to camp. He is still asking for a trade, with the Los Angeles Clippers at or near the forefront of the sweepstakes. Will he get his wish?
- Denver Nuggets sharpshooter Michael Porter Jr. has often struggled with staying healthy, and he has picked up a nasty injury before the start of the season. Porter reportedly left Nuggets practice in a walking boot, which is reportedly the result of him suppering a sprained ankle.
Will VanVleet exact revenge on his former team?