Fred VanVleet Declines Player Option, Will Become UFA

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has turned down his $22.8MM player option for next season and will become an unrestricted free agent, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that VanVleet would be willing to consider a new deal to stay in Toronto. However, he’ll be one of the top names on the free agent market and is expected to be targeted by plenty of teams with cap space and others that might be interested working out a sign-and-trade.

Wojnarowski notes that several contending teams talked to the Raptors about trading for VanVleet before the February deadline, adding that many of those teams will continue to pursue the 29-year-old guard once free agency beings on June 30.

Teams with ample cap space such as the Rockets and Magic are expected to have interest in VanVleet, which could price some other competitors out of the market, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

An All-Star during the 2021/22 season, VanVleet has played his entire career in Toronto after joining the team when he went undrafted in 2016. He emerged as a full-time starter in his fourth NBA season and was part of the 2019 squad that captured the only NBA title in Raptors history.

Along with scoring 19.3 PPG this season, VanVleet averaged a career-best 7.2 assists per game and ranked in the top 10 in the league in assists-to-turnover ratio. He was also third in the NBA in steals with 1.8 per game and first in deflections.

Most players have until June 29 to make option decisions for next season, but VanVleet’s deadline was Wednesday, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Teammate Gary Trent Jr. also has until Wednesday to decide on his $18.6MM option for 2023/24.

VanVleet is still eligible for an extension, Marks adds, but the Raptors can only offer $114MM over four years under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (Twitter link). Changes to the new CBA, which takes effect July 1, would have increased that maximum extension to $133MM with a starting salary of $29.8MM, but VanVleet will be a free agent by that point, making him eligible for a projected maximum salary of $40.2MM.

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