The Raptors love Fred VanVleet.
Enough to complicate their Giannis Antetokounmpo pursuit.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
If VanVleet’s contract contains the largest possible dip for next offseason (when Antetokounmpo could be an unrestricted free agent), the structure would be:
2020-21: $21.25 million
2021-22: $19.55 million
2022-23: $21.25 million
2023-24: $22.95 million
With that structure, Toronto would project to have about $27 million (minus a 2021 first-round pick’s salary) in cap space next offseason.
Antetokounmpo’s max starting salary projects to be about $34 million.
But the Raptors could open sufficient room by unloading Norman Powell, who has a $11,615,328 player option for 2021-22. That’s a reasonable burden when the upside is keeping VanVleet.
VanVleet signed with Toronto as an undrafted free agent, worked his way into being a quality backup then developed into a good starter. He has advanced thanks to his endearing confidence and toughness – plus an underrated skill set. Overlooked at just 6-foot-1, VanVleet is a good outside shooter and gritty defender.
Though he has been starting with Kyle Lowry in a dual-point guard backcourt, VanVleet (26) could become more of a lead guard as Lowry (34) ages or maybe leaves in 2021 free agency.
Perhaps not coincidentally, these are the same terms (four years, $85 million) Malcolm Brogdon got from the Pacers last year. He acquitted himself well in a larger role. I’d expect VanVleet to do the same.
VanVleet has earned the benefit of the doubt – and this big contract.