Last summer produced one of the most frantic and memorable free agency periods in NBA history, but this offseason figures to be a bit more relaxed. There aren't as many big names hitting the market, and most of those that are -- Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram, for example -- are expected to re-sign with their teams. Plus, most teams don't have that much cap space to work with.
But even if there won't be news helicopters following superstars on their way to meetings, there's still plenty of solid players out there, and a lot of business worth monitoring. One such situation involves unrestricted free agent Fred VanVleet. After a career season with the Toronto Raptors, the formerly undrafted point guard is now in line for the biggest payday of his life.
While the Raptors may end up re-signing him, he's expected to get plenty of attention in such a weak class, and the fact that he's unrestricted means a team has a chance to pry him away with a big offer. Regardless of what happens, any interested team is going to have to pay up, as he's expected to command a deal similar to Malcolm Brogdon, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
VanVleet, 26, can soon afford many, many, many Corvettes. In the 2020 free-agent class, he'll likely command the third-biggest contract behind Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram (who are both expected to re-sign with their respective teams). People around the league view Malcolm Brogdon's deal last year with the Pacers as VanVleet's comparison, which means in the neighborhood of four years, $85 million.
The Raptors are the betting favorites to re-sign VanVleet, but his free agency is unrestricted and the Knicks, according to sources, are among the other teams with interest. If they don't pull the trigger on a Chris Paul trade, it certainly makes sense for the cap-loaded Knicks.
Admittedly this is the case every offseason, but there's been plenty of rumors surrounding the Knicks in the last few weeks, and it seems they have their sights set on adding a big-name point guard. They've been linked to both Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook as potential trade options, and now VanVleet in free agency. With more cap space than anyone besides the Atlanta Hawks, the Knicks actually have a decent chance of pulling something off this offseason. Whether it's VanVleet or someone else obviously remains to be seen, however.
As for VanVleet, the fact that he's in a position to sign such a lucrative deal just a few years after going undrafted is a testament to his talent, yes, but also the hard work he's put in early in his career. He's forced his way into a bigger and bigger role every season, culminating in him becoming a starter and putting up career-best numbers across the board last season. His shooting (39 percent from 3-point land on 6.9 attempts), defensive abilities and locker room leadership have turned him into an invaluable part of this Raptors bunch, and the way he stepped up was a big factor in them maintaining a high-level of success even after Kawhi Leonard left.
Four years ago, it might have been a surprise if VanVleet was still in the league at this point. Now he'll have teams fighting over the right to pay him $20-plus million a year. Not bad. Not bad at all.