The Pistons, Knicks, and Suns are among the teams expected to emerge as suitors for Fred VanVleet once the Raptors guard reaches unrestricted free agency this offseason, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.
VanVleet projects to be one of the top free agents on the market when the 2020/21 league year begins. The 26-year-old is coming off a career year in which he averaged 17.6 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 3.8 RPG on .413/.390/.848 shooting in 54 contests and is off to a hot start in the postseason, with 21.3 PPG, 7.8 APG, and 4.0 RPG on .527/.559/.800 shooting in four games against Brooklyn.
Only a handful of teams project to have cap room available this offseason, so the Raptors are in a good position to re-sign VanVleet. However, a team like the Pistons or Knicks could certainly make things interesting — and make signing VanVleet a more costly endeavor. Neither club has a long-term answer at the point and both will have cap space at their disposal this fall. VanVleet also played for current Pistons head coach Dwane Casey in Toronto.
As for Phoenix, the fit there is less obvious, considering the Suns already have Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio in their backcourt and may not have the cap flexibility to make a competitive bid for VanVleet if they hope to bring back contributors like Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, or Frank Kaminsky.
Still, VanVleet has plenty of experience playing alongside another point guard in Toronto, where he started this season alongside Kyle Lowry, and Suns GM James Jones showed last year in his pursuit of Rubio that he’s willing to make moves to carve out cap room if there’s a target he likes. Bobby Marks of ESPN recently suggested the idea of trading Rubio to a team like Atlanta to open up cap space for VanVleet.