Free agent guard Fred VanVleet will re-sign with the Toronto Raptors on a four-year, $85 million deal, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. VanVleet, 26, was one of the top players on the market. He will have a player option in Year 4.
This is not only an important move for the future of the Raptors, it represents one of the best development stories in the NBA. VanVleet worked his way from an undrafted rookie battling to make the team in training camp to a key part of Toronto's second unit to a crucial part of a title team to the type of player who can command more than $21 million per season.
With the Raptors, VanVleet will, for now, remain in a role in which he has thrived, sharing playmaking duties with Kyle Lowry and serving as their primary point-of-attack defender. His spot-up shooting allows him to complement Lowry and Pascal Siakam on offense, and on the other end he's a perfect fit for a team that wants to force turnovers and keep the opposing team guessing. Hardly anybody pressures the ball the way VanVleet does, and, aside from Lowry, hardly anybody his size is as effective defending wings.
VanVleet could have chosen to sign with a different team and been given more offensive responsibility in the near term. That would have almost certainly come along with more losses, though, and staying in Toronto means he can gradually grow into a higher-usage role as Lowry ages. In terms of leadership, VanVleet already has an enormous role with the Raptors.
Leading up to free agency, the contract Malcolm Brogdon signed with the Indiana Pacers last season was a popular point of comparison. VanVleet agreed to the same terms as Brogdon did, but it has been structured to give Toronto more cap space in free agency next year. VanVleet's salary will dip by eight percent in the second season, per Sportsnet's Michael Grange.
Had the Raptors lost VanVleet, they would've been in an uncomfortable spot going forward. This agreement is a fair deal for both sides, and it solidifies their backcourt for the foreseeable future. Now they can turn their attention to the center position -- both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka remain unrestricted free agents.
The New York Knicks, another VanVleet suitor, are now looking at free agent point guards Jeff Teague and Elfrid Payton, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman.
VanVleet averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 35.7 minutes last season.