Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who may be affected as much as anyone by disruptions to the NBA’s free agency process, spoke about the situation today in a conference call with reporters, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports.
VanVleet is in the midst of his best season, averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game in his first year as a full-time starter. He’s in position to command a significant raise on his current $9.35MM salary, but reduced revenue due to the league’s hiatus figures to lessen the value of his next contract.
“I think about it. I’m human,” VanVleet said. “I feel like I worked myself in good position. I was having a hell of a year and I was planning on having a great playoffs to cap that off. I think I was in good shape. And I think, more so than worrying about what would’ve, could’ve, should’ve happened is more so like, what’s going to happen? Are they going to move the dates around? Does free agency move? How does it affect the cap? Those types of things are more so what I’m thinking about versus, ‘Oh, woe is me.'” (Twitter link).
VanVleet noted that several other players are facing the same circumstances, citing Christian Wood of the Pistons as an example. Wood put up big numbers after Detroit traded Andre Drummond and was also positioned to benefit in free agency.
“I think the league and the union will try to do a good job to make sure that the free agents get a fair shake and it’s fair negotiating,” VanVleet added. “Obviously we’ll probably all take a hit at some point, but hopefully the hit is minimized to just this year and so there’s ways to work around that stuff.”
One avenue that VanVleet might consider is another short-term deal, similar to the two-year contract he signed with Toronto in 2018 (Twitter link). He said it never would have happened under a “best-case scenario,” but he’s “flexible” now considering the league’s strained financial position.
VanVleet is skeptical that the current season can be safely resumed, but he understands that there’s a lot of financial incentive to try, according to Ian Harrison of The Associated Press.
“If our league is going to be a leader in terms of public health and public safety and player safety, you’ve got to follow the guidelines of what the virus is speaking to you, so the odds are probably against us in terms of that,” VanVleet said. “But money, right? So, I think they’ll find a way somehow, some way and try to make it happen. I could definitely see it going either way. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t come back and I wouldn’t be surprised if we do come back.”