Raptors Guard VanVleet said public health is more important than big pay

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TORONTO – Fred VanVleet said he would be lying if he hadn’t thought about how the financial impact of COVID-19 will affect the free agency NBA this summer.

The Toronto Raptors’ guard had the best season of his career and was about to get rich with a new lucrative business this summer before the coronavirus knocked down the NBA and world sports in mid-March.

But VanVleet, whose slogan is “Bet on Yourself” after being drafted in the NBA and progressing through Toronto’s G-League affiliate Raptors 905, sees the big picture.

“The health, well-being and state of mind of people is much more important than a few million here and there, because we are all extremely dirty compared to where we come from, so I don’t think whoever cries, ”said VanVleet.

“I just think it sucks when you start thinking about what would have happened, should happen, so try to get away from it as much as possible.” “

VanVleet started in the 48 games he played this season and achieved career highs of 17.6 points and 6.6 assists, making him so valuable that there were questions as to whether Toronto could afford to keep a hard nose.

“I’m not one of those who try to like to give a vanilla answer. Yeah, I’m thinking of (free agency), “he said. ” I am human. I felt like I worked in a good position, I was spending a year in Helluva and I expected to have great playoffs to top it off. “

Now what will become this NBA season is a huge question mark.

“More than worrying about what would happen, could, should happen, it’s more like, what’s going to happen?” Will they move the dates? Is the free agency moving? How does this affect the ceiling? These things more than thinking “Oh, woe to me”, because this is something that happens to everyone. “

When the league closed on March 11, the Raptors were second in the Eastern Conference (46-18), had just closed a playoff spot and had just completed a five-game west coast trip that saw them go 4-1.

There has been a lot of speculation about what the resumption of the NBA season might look like, including a shortened post-season in a neutral city like Las Vegas.

But VanVleet said he was skeptical. He cannot understand how the NBA could resume to end the season. Again, big league sport is a powerful entity, and money practically moves mountains.

“If we say the timeline is important, we say all these things and you look around the world at what’s going on with the virus itself, if our league is going to be a leader in terms of public health and player safety , you have to follow the directions of what the virus is telling you, “he said. “So the odds are probably against us in terms of that.

“But the money, right? So I think they will find a way, they will find a way somehow and try to do it. But I can certainly see it going both ways, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t come back and I wouldn’t be surprised if we did come back. “

The 26-year-old returned to Rockford, Illinois on Wednesday, bemoaning the weather – it snowed a few days this week, making it easier to stay indoors and maintain social distance. He remains fit and jokingly accused a reporter at Wednesday’s conference call of being a spy for Team President Masai Ujiri when asked if he was training.

“I have a hula hoop, I have a home gym in my garage, I have a Peleton bike. . . I have everything I need, I went in phases and weeks and once we started to see some sort of progression when we think the games could start, I was able to put in set up a training program, “he said.

“I took a little rest when I got home, started with some mobility, started lifting weights, got into cardio and a little basketball. Try to be smart and stay in shape. . . I did better than I ever imagined. “

VanVleet, the father of a young son and young daughter, said he had assembled more toys, slides, desks and chairs than he would have liked in recent weeks, “just DIY in the house “.

He misses his hair stylist, who lives in Toronto, saying that because the Raptors were on the road trip, they went almost directly to quarantine, he hadn’t had his hair cut for seven or eight weeks and ” turned into a werewolf around here. “

Would he let his partner Shontai Neal cut his hair?

“Damn it,” he laughs. ” No chance. “

When asked if he missed the media, VanVleet laughed and replied, “No, not really. “

He misses his teammates and talks to teammate Kyle Lowry almost daily. The Raptors all watched the first episode of Michael Jordan’s documentary “The Last Dance” on Monday, and there was a lot of chatter about it.

Most importantly, they talk about staying ready, sane and healthy. They hope to end a season that has led them to a striking distance from a long playoff series and possibly even a second consecutive championship.

“We thought we were as lucky as anyone. We have put ourselves in a very good position despite all the injuries and other things that are happening, ”said VanVleet. “We would like to have a chance to win something at the end of the year. That’s all we can do, it’s a kind of expectation and hope. “

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 22, 2020.

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