In a weak free agent draft class, Toronto Raptors free agent guard Fred VanVleet is set for a major payday. VanVleet is arguably the best free agent available that is not restricted, with an option, or, in the case of Anthony Davis, has announced his plans to return. What makes VanVleet so special?
VanVleet has shown his ability to score in bunches. His usage went up after the departure of Kawhi Leonard, and his efficiency has remained about the same. An added plus is VanVleet’s playoff and championship experience. For as good of a player as VanVleet is, those are valuable assets that can hand him a huge bag. But who gives him that bag?
New York Knicks
It’s no secret the Knicks have been looking for a guard for some time. Rumors have abound about the Knicks landing Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook, with VanVleet in the mix as well. But if the Knicks are looking for someone who’s younger who will fit along with their core, then VanVleet would be a good option.
VanVleet would fit well alongside RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. Even if the Knicks sign VanVleet, they should still draft a point guard. VanVleet plays exceptionally well when at the two-guard spot where he can move without the ball. The Knicks, for once, couldn’t go wrong here.
The Pistons are another team in need of a playmaker. If the Pistons were to land VanVleet, then they could be freed up to draft one of the many 3-D wings in the draft and allow VanVleet to do his thing as the primary ball handler. Blake Griffin is aging and coming off an injury, and in an Eastern Conference that has gotten stronger, they will need a good playmaker to make noise.
Things could get interesting with Derrick Rose at the point. But the dynamic could work similar to how VanVleet played next to Kyle Lowry in Toronto. The Pistons are in an odd position with how to move forward, but VanVleet could be a middle ground piece that ties together younger players and vets.
New Orleans Pelicans
If the rumors are true and the Pelicans want to part ways with Jrue Holiday, then VanVleet may be a viable option. Again, VanVleet brings championship experience, and could be a good mentor for Zion Williamson. Lonzo Ball is not the long term solution. Like everyone else on this list, a playmaking guard who can shoot is a top priority.
The lack of true 3pt shooting makes VanVleet a must look for the Pelicans. The West is growing ever stronger. VanVleet may not drastically help them in the now, but he can help for both the now and the future. The Pelicans can acquire draft assets and another scorer, say Caris Levert, and make a move on VanVleet.
Phoenix is a Western Conference team that doesn’t have a lot to spend, but they are in desperate need of veteran leadership. VanVleet brings a smart guard presence that can also be an efficient scorer. Devin Booker will still be the go to guy, but that helps VanVleet. He would have to take a larger role on the other teams on this list, but in Phoenix, VanVleet can do pretty much what he’s been doing. Nothing wrong with that for the right price.
Again, Phoenix can’t give him as much as the other teams, but it’s still worth considering. If the rumors surrounding Booker are true, then maybe Phoenix doesn’t have much time. VanVleet may be their last hope in trying to keep Booker and end a rebuild that’s been going on since Steve Nash left.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Raptors were still a good team that had a chance to make it back to the Finals. And VanVleet was arguably the best player on that Raptors team. They played a great series against the Boston Celtics, it just so happened that Pascal Siakam decided to play horribly. Maybe Siakam takes a step in the right direction, and maybe some of their other players get better.
There’s a lot of ifs here, so I’m not sure this is the best choice. Lowry is getting older, Marc Gasol is leaving, and not really anyone else jumps off the page for the Raptors. It’s not a great free agency class, and not a lot of money to go around. But someone is going to give Fred VanVleet a nice contract. Time will tell who that is.