Fred VanVleet‘s extension talks with the Raptors are on hold, but he indicated Sunday that he hopes to reach a long-term deal to stay in Toronto, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. VanVleet confirmed to reporters that he and the team had discussions about a four-year, $114MM extension before the start of the season, but they made a mutual decision to wait. A new deal can be reached any time up to June 30 if he turns down his player option for 2023/24.
“Without going too far into it … [I’m] just trying to put myself in a good position business-wise, and not take an extension on a deal that was made three or four years ago,” VanVleet said.“I felt like I’ve outplayed that contract thus far. So just trying to get myself in a position to put the cards in their hands. They got to make a decision from an organization standpoint. I love being here. I love being a Raptor. I got a great relationship with (team president) Masai (Ujiri) and (general manager) Bobby (Webster), so I’m confident that we could find (a deal). It’s a great partnership that we have, so going forward, I’m not going to make it easy on them and they’re not going to make it on me either, and that’s the way it’s going.”
VanVleet’s comments are contained in a story on why Toronto might be active ahead of the trade deadline following a disappointing 17-23 start. An Eastern Conference executive told Bontemps that the Raptors will have “plenty of interest” in their top players if they decide to make them available.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Celtics center Robert Williams has only averaged 19.4 minutes in nine games since returning from knee surgery, but he’s making enough of an impact that coach Joe Mazzulla will have to consider making him a starter again, contends Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Williams is averaging 7.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in that limited time, and Boston has been more effective when he’s been on the court. “Whether he starts or comes off the bench, just want him on the floor, want him healthy,” Jayson Tatum said. “Want to be on the floor with him at the same time as much as possible. I’m going to start, so I’d like Rob to start. But whatever is best for the team, he’ll do that.”
- With Joel Embiid still sidelined, Sixers backup centers Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed combined for 36 points Sunday as both made a strong case for more playing time, notes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Neubeck believes Harrell is in a better position to get consistent minutes once Embiid returns, but says questions persist about his ability to protect the rim.
- Matisse Thybulle went through two stretches where he wasn’t part of the Sixers‘ rotation this season, but he’s been showing his defensive value lately, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Thybulle had five steals Sunday against the Pistons, and Tyrese Maxey said, “At this point, I think they were just passing it to him.”