June 25, 2024

The Toronto Raptors are set to confront Fred VanVleet for the first time since the departure of one of the franchise’s greatest players, who ended his tenure in Toronto by signing a three-year, $128 million contract with the Houston Rockets. Despite concerns, the parting appears to have been mutually beneficial.

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Although VanVleet’s shooting percentages hover around 40% once again, and his scoring has decreased compared to the previous season, his assists per game have risen to 8.4, ranking sixth in the NBA. The veteran leadership he provides is often credited as a significant factor in Ime Udoka’s rapid turnaround in Houston.

Criticism was directed at the Raptors for not acquiring a player or pick in exchange for Fred through a trade. However, Masai Ujiri’s shift towards a more earnest rebuild seems sufficient justification for allowing VanVleet to depart. The timelines simply didn’t align for a VanVleet return.

While the Raptors may face challenging seasons in the next couple of campaigns, their decision to let VanVleet go is still deemed correct. Committing to the same substantial contract as Houston’s for VanVleet would have posed a handicap for Toronto.

3 reasons the Toronto Raptors were right not to sign Fred VanVleet

1. Too Expensive

VanVleet’s contract wasn’t just costly; it significantly exceeded the market value for a player approaching 30, dealing with past injury issues, and unlikely to experience a rejuvenation in the final two years of the deal. Envision the burden his contract would impose on Toronto, becoming a financial constraint for the team.

Considering that Scottie Barnes will require a contract extension, backed by consistent strong performances over the coming seasons, and with the potential long-term commitments to RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, adding VanVleet’s contract to the mix would render Toronto extremely inflexible. Securing quality role players would have become a nearly insurmountable challenge.

The Toronto Raptors saved money by letting Fred VanVleet go

The Raptors might not be a preferred destination for free agents, but committing to a core that would simultaneously age, become expensive, and prone to injuries wasn’t a winning strategy. While a trade would have been a preferable option, Toronto made the best of the situation that followed.

Houston, with the most cap space in the league, could have accommodated VanVleet’s contract exceeding $43 million per season without it being deemed unreasonable. However, scrutinizing his performance, justifying such a hefty price tag becomes challenging. VanVleet secured his financial gain in Texas, but Toronto arguably shouldn’t have yielded to those demands.

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