“I’m trying to get paid, man,” VanVleet said when asked about The Old Man & the Three, a podcast hosted by New Orleans Pelican Guardians JJ Redick and Tommy Alter. I don’t have to tell people that I appreciate winning. Just look at my story, do some research. I’ve never been on a losing team in my entire life. . I won a championship and now it’s time to cash out. ”
VanVleet absolutely deserved his salary. He went from undrafted in 2016 (he turned down several teams interested in taking him to the second round), being picked up by Toronto and helping the 905 Raptors to their first and only title in 2017, to being a key part of the Raptors. ‘bench mob during the 2017-18 season (in which he finished as the sixth man of the year contender), to be a starter on a championship team in 2019.
Following his initial signing with the Raptors, VanVleet entered his first free agency period in 2018 with restricted status, meaning Toronto could match anything another team offered and was ultimately able to find a middle ground for a satisfactory two-year, $ 18 million agreement. on both sides.
Now VanVleet is in control of his own destiny, exactly where he likes to be. And as one of this offseason’s renowned free agents, he will potentially have more choices than ever.
“I’ll be looking at all the deals on the table,” VanVleet said on the podcast. “I know what I feel like I’m worth, and I’ll see if their minds are in the same place as me and if not, then we’ll take the best deal on the table.”
And while money naturally seems to be the determining factor in VanVleet’s decision-making process, it is not the only one.
Playing alongside Kyle Lowry certainly has its advantages and has proven VanVleet to be a deadly off-ball player and secondary creator, but the opportunity to take on a more substantial role in the offense (and therefore the logical next step in the game. development as a potential custodial lead) was therefore difficult to find.
“I’m 26, I’m only four, but I feel like I’m about to blossom even more with more of a lead role and take on more responsibility in my game, so all of this join the game. [my decision] VanVleet said. But at the end of the day, it’s not just numbers, but numbers play a big role and I just want to feel my mutual worth on the other side. ”
That kind of role isn’t necessarily out of reach in Toronto, as Lowry is 34 and turns 35 next March, but it’s also not something the Raptors can deliver right away. The other six teams with significant cap space this offseason (Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Phoenix Suns), on the other hand, have the wherewithal to offer more money and , in some cases a more important role.
But that doesn’t mean a VanVleet departure from Toronto is inevitable. In fact, the most recent reports from teams supposed to target VanVleet suggest they are moving in alternate directions – at least, for now, the pre-free agency.
According to reports, the Hawks have an interest in Jrue Holiday, the suns looks like At Chris Paul, the Pistons have hinted that they might prefer to act as a dumping ground for unwanted wages to collect draft picks, and the Knicks are unsure if they will compromise leeway for all but a few players. .
That leaves the Heat, who like the Raptors have their own lofty 2021 free agency goals that will prevent them from signing a player like VanVleet and the Hornets.
Everything is fluid when it comes to sports, but for now the market seems to be shrinking, and that can only be good news for the Raptors. On top of that, the fact that the cap and luxury tax are now expected to increase by 3-10% after the 2020-2021 season gives Toronto a bit more flexibility to work with the future.
“I’m a businessman at heart,” VanVleet said, “but there are a few things I like about choosing between franchises that offer the same number, so that part will be easy. ”
Whatever decision VanVleet ends up making this offseason, he can at least rest in the knowledge that he made it. Betting on himself has paid off so far, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue.
“I’m not going to play hard to get it,” VanVleet said. “I’m not going to try to outsmart myself and try to stack the teams against each other, but we’ll see what the numbers look like when they come up. We’ll try to make the best decision, but I’m a nice, simple guy. It’s not that hard for me. “