NBA Free Agency: Fred VanVleet likely a hunted Raptor - Metro US

NBA Free Agency: Fred VanVleet likely a hunted Raptor

FILE PHOTO: NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors

Fred VanVleet put himself in position to cash in by betting on himself.

The Toronto Raptors point guard is one of the top available veterans as the NBA’s fast-forward offseason jumps to free agency Friday. VanVleet, who made countless gutsy shots and helped Toronto advance in the playoffs without Kawhi Leonard, infamously asked teams not to draft him in the second round coming out of Wichita State.

He cashed out on that bet with a title in Toronto and a reputation for being a money player in crunchtime.

When the floodgates open Friday at 6 p.m. — deals technically aren’t official until Sunday at 12:01 p.m. ET — it’s safe to wager VanVleet’s phone will be buzzing.

The 26-year-old remains a priority for Toronto, and no team can offer him more than the Raptors.

It could be challenging for teams looking to acquire VanVleet through a sign-and-trade scenario, as the squad that gets VanVleet through this avenue would be hard-capped at the team salary cap apron of $138,928,000. Teams also can’t use a taxpayer mid-level exception on a sign-and traded player, whose new salary could have a greater impact on the salary cap on his new team than his former one, depending the amount of his new deal.

A riled defender with great shooting range, VanVleet averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 assists last season.

For comparison sake, at the same age last summer, Malcolm Brogdon — who averaged 16.5 points, 7.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds in his first season with the Indiana Pacers — signed a four-year, $85 million contract.

But VanVleet enters the free agency market as one of the most coveted players available. Money thrown at Kevin Durant by the Nets (four years, $164 million), Leonard by the Clippers (three years, $103 million with an opt-in for a fourth) or Jimmy Butler by the Miami Heat (four year, $140.7 million) in last summer’s free agent smorgasbord could be pointed at VanVleet and … Joe Harris?

The Nets’ 3-point marksman appears sure to cash in, with at least three teams reportedly planning four-year offers.

The teams with the most cash available this winter include the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons. All three are projected to be north of $30 million under the salary cap by spotrac.com, and the Knicks are over $40 million after parting with six veteran players on Thursday.

But how eager those teams are to spend short of an unexpected player being available — Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis opted out of his contract, but all indications are he’s re-upping with the NBA champs in Los Angeles — is another conversation.

Due to the pandemic, the league projected total losses of revenue exceeding $1 billion last season.

Among noteworthy veterans, Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics), Goran Dragic (Heat), Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Danilo Gallinari (Oklahoma City Thunder), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Paul Millsap (Denver Nuggets), Rajon Rondo (Los Angeles Lakers) are likely to draw offers some observers might deem surprising.

–Field Level Media

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