Executives around the NBA believe that the four-year, $85MM contract signed by Malcolm Brogdon last summer will set the market for Raptors guard Fred VanVleet this fall, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Brogdon, who was 26 when he reached free agency in 2019, was coming off a season in which he averaged 15.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 3.2 APG with an impressive .505/.426/.928 shooting line in 64 games for the top-seeded Bucks.
VanVleet’s shooting line in 2019/20 (.413/.390/.848) isn’t as impressive as Brogdon’s was, but the Raptors guard – who will also enter free agency at age 26 – is a strong defender who has enjoyed a career year offensively for the defending champions, with 17.6 PPG and 6.6 APG in 54 games.
As Windhorst points out, the NBA’s economy was healthier a year ago, and the fact that Brogdon was a restricted free agent helped boost his value. The Pacers had to make an aggressive offer to convince Milwaukee to sign-and-trade Brogdon to a division rival rarely than simply matching and retaining him.
However, there are factors working in VanVleet’s favor as well. If Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram return to their respective teams, the Raptors guard could be the top free agent on the market, and he’d be an intriguing target for certain rebuilding teams with cap room, such as the Knicks and Pistons. Additionally, the Bucks reportedly had some health concerns related to Brogdon’s feet, which won’t apply to VanVleet.
Another strong playoff run could help further increase VanVleet’s free agent value. He got off to a good start on Monday, leading the Raptors to a blowout Game 1 win over Brooklyn with 30 points, 11 assists, and eight three-pointers.
Toronto will have the cap flexibility to necessary to retain VanVleet, but a pricey multiyear contract for the standout guard would cut into the team’s projected room for 2021, when president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri hopes to make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo. If Giannis is sending strong signals that he intends to sign an extension with the Bucks, it could increase the Raptors’ willingness to pay big long-term money to VanVleet.