Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet understands his value and looks forward to signing a lucrative deal when free agency officially begins Nov. 20.
VanVleet is the best free agent point guard out there, and following his career year at age 26, he’s expected to receive a substantial pay rise from the two-year, $16 million deal he signed in 2018. The 2019 champions went to the The Old Man and the Three podcast. to discuss what he is looking for.
“I’m trying to get paid, man. I’m not shy,” VanVleet told hosts JJ Redick and Tommy Alter.
VanVleet acknowledged that he’s not a maximum contract player and that he doesn’t necessarily need to have the ball in his hands at all times. However, it is important that his paycheck reflect his value as a player and that he is aware of his value in the open market. Coming off a season in which he averaged nearly 18 points, seven assists and two steals in one of the best teams in the league, VanVleet looks to be even better in the years to come.
“I don’t have to tell people I appreciate winning. Check out my story, do your research, I’ve never been on a losing team in my entire life. That’s what I’m all about and that’s what it’s all about. I won a championship and now it’s time to cash out. I’m 26, I’ve only been at this four years, I feel like I’m on the verge of blossoming even more, with a bigger lead and just taking on more responsibility in my game.”
“I just want to feel my value reciprocated from the other end. Teams can tell you as much as they value you, but until they show you the numbers, you know what that means. We’ll see how that looks,” he said.
The Raptors have repeatedly said VanVleet will be a priority for them this offseason, and VanVleet’s stated preference is to stay with the franchise that signed him in 2017. VanVleet grew from a training camp invite to winning the G-League championship as a rookie, to second-unit leadership in 2018, then winning the title in 2019 and becoming an established starter last season.
Not only is VanVleet a key element to the most successful seasons in franchise history, but he’s also a shining example of what the Raptors represent. He did a job, made a name for himself and should be paid accordingly. The Raptors have yet to balance their books to allow enough flexibility for the slim chance of Giannis Antetokounmpo joining them in 2021, but that’s still possible as long as VanVleet’s deal is in the $20 million-a-year range. Regardless of how the team changes over the coming years, VanVleet will serve as the core going forward.
VanVleet is expected to attract interest from the Detroit Pistons, the New York Knicks and perhaps the Phoenix Suns or the Atlanta Hawks in the coming weeks. The Pistons and Knicks both have enough leeway to make a maximum offer to VanVleet, although it remains to be seen whether any franchise is as positive about VanVleet’s potential.
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