Fred VanVleet

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Achiuwa, Boucher, Depth

Fred VanVleet made changes to his diet as well as his strength and conditioning regimen in order to stay healthy while playing heavy minutes, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Lewenberg notes that VanVleet has played the second-most minutes per game in the NBA over the past three seasons (trailing only James Harden), and 47 of his 55 missed games over that span have come in the second half of seasons.

It’s a 12-month season now, year ‘round,” said a noticeably slimmer VanVleet. “Hopefully I can stay on this regimen the rest of my career. There’s always gonna be new changes and things you have to adjust and adapt to as you try to grow. I’ve had a hell of a run so far, so to continue to try to keep growing is going to be challenging every year but I’m up for it.”

Head coach Nick Nurse said the team hopes to reduce VanVleet’s workload in 2022/23, but it’s more complicated than just following a prescribed plan.

It’s not easy,” Nurse said, per Lewenberg. “When you got a super competitive guy who’s playing great and he wants to play, to rest him, to just say sorry it’s your rest time, we don’t care what’s happening on the floor right now it’s your rest time, that’s hard to do. But I think we learned a lot about how we can shift our team around without him in there and I think that we’re going to need to be able to do that. I hope we can get it done.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Precious Achiuwa‘s development is one of the keys to Toronto’s standing in the East, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Achiuwa made an immediate impact as a defender in his first year with the Raptors in ’21/22, but struggled on offense. However, he had a big second half last season, and if he can build upon that, the Raptors will be that much more dangerous, Grange notes. Nurse says the third-year big man has impressed early on in training camp. “I think that he’s improving all the time. I think he had a great especially last half. I’ve already talked about I think he had a great spring, summer, fall so far, and he’s looked really good during the first three practices,” said Nurse. “So you know, I think a good step forward for him is expected by him, first and foremost, which is the most important, and by all of us, yeah.”
  • Both Nurse and Chris Boucher are hoping for more consistency from the “really unique” big man, who signed a three-year, $35MM contract to remain with the Raptors. “There are some nights when he’s picking and popping and not hitting those, and he can’t live in that world, that’s always just extra for us,” Nurse said, per Lori Ewing of The Toronto Star. “(He has to) continue to run, continue to crash the glass, continue to block shots and continue to be that spirit, that force of spirit that he is out there and playing hard.”
  • In another article for Sportsnet, Grange writes that the Raptors are more confident in their depth after adding Otto Porter and Juancho Hernangomez in free agency, plus having a full season of Thaddeus Young, who signed an extension shortly before free agency opened. Young players like Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton and Justin Champagnie could also be important depth pieces if they continue to improve, Grange adds.

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Anunoby, Siakam, Hernangomez

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has the ability to become an unrestricted free agent next summer if he turns down his player option for the 2023/24 season. At Monday’s Media Day, he and team president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri were noncommittal about whether a contract extension will get done in the coming weeks, but both sides expressed enthusiasm about continuing the relationship, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca relays (Twitter links).

“I’ll just say I love being a Raptor,” VanVleet said. “… There’s nothing I could ever complain about being on this team. You guys will know when it’s time to know, but I’m happy with where I am and I think it’s a mutual love.”

Ujiri stated that the team is in a “good place” with VanVleet after some initial extension conversations.

“Whether it’s now or later on, Fred is beloved to us,” Ujiri said. “… Hopefully we’ll figure (it out).”

Here are a few more notes out of Toronto:

  • O.G. Anunoby told reporters today that he was “surprised” by an offseason report claiming that he was unhappy with his role on offense, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. I haven’t really talked about role with (head coach) Nick (Nurse),” Anunoby said. “We’re all just trying to get better and everything will fall into place.”
  • After making an All-Star team and earning a pair of All-NBA nods, Pascal Siakam is setting even higher expectations for himself, telling reporters today that his goal is to become a “top-five” player in the NBA. “I want to be one of the best and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there,” Siakam said, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link). “I’m ready for it. It’s time.”
  • Before he signed with the Raptors, Juancho Hernangomez spoke to fellow Spaniards Marc Gasol, Jose Calderon, and Sergio Scariolo about the franchise and the city of Toronto, tweets Lewenberg. The input Hernangomez received from former Raptors assistant Scariolo, in particular, played a major part in his decision.
  • The Raptors let their tender window for Jalen Harris lapse, which made him an unrestricted free agent and allowed the Knicks to sign him outright, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet and The Fan 590. Toronto had the ability to retain Harris, but the team already had a full camp roster and opted to let him go.

Atlantic Notes: Layman, J. Jackson, Celtics, Raptors, Sixers

When they signed with the Celtics, Jake Layman and Justin Jackson both received one-year, minimum-salary contracts that are non-guaranteed. However, the terms of those agreements are slightly different — Layman got an Exhibit 10 clause in his contract, while Jackson’s deal is an Exhibit 9, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Both Layman and Jackson are ineligible to have their contracts converted into two-way deals because they have too many years of NBA service under their belts. But Layman’s Exhibit 10 contract makes him eligible to receive a $50K bonus if he’s waived before the season and then spends at least 60 days with the Maine Celtics, Boston’s G League team.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Atlantic Notes: Brogdon, Nets, Raptors, Niang

Speaking to Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com, new Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon said the franchise’s history is one important reason why he was excited to be traded from Indiana to Boston this offseason.

“I mean, they’re the most winning organization in the league, and I think they’re more hungry to win than anybody,” Brogdon said. “You can see that with the move they made for me and (Danilo) Gallinari. They want to improve. They want to win a championship. It’s all about Banner 18 for ’em. Now that’s all it’s about for me as well, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Brogdon also talked to Davies about Gallinari’s injury, the role he thinks he can play in Boston, and his involvement with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program. The conversation is worth checking out in full for Celtics fans.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Harden, Rivers, Simmons, Raptors, C’s

The NBA is not only investigating whether the Sixers violated tampering rules prior to free agency but also whether they have a handshake agreement with James Harden after the star guard declined his $47.4MM option and took a pay cut, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps in an appearance on NBA Today (video link).

Harden signed a two-year deal for $68.6MM that includes a player option. The league is concerned whether the Sixers front office, led by president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, already has another agreement in place with Harden regarding a future contract.

The league “could potentially levy a really big penalty” against the Sixers if that occurred, Bontemps said.

On the same show, a clip from The VC (Vince Carter) Show was broadcast in which 76ers coach Doc Rivers denied that the Sixers knew Harden would opt out and re-sign: “I guarantee you that Daryl had no idea what James was going to do.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Rivers also spoke about the Ben Simmons situation, saying that Simmons essentially overreacted to issues he had in Philadelphia (video link). “What frustrated me was that I still think (his issues) shouldn’t have been enough to want to leave,” Rivers said. “I told Ben that and I kept telling him that. That’s not why you want to leave a team. You work these things out and they didn’t get worked out.”
  • Raptors stars Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam could sign lucrative extensions this offseason but will likely to decide to wait, as Eric Koreen of The Athletic explains. VanVleet could sign a four-year contract extension worth approximately $114MM right now but might get more money down the road if he waits and remains productive. Beginning in October, Siakam could sign a three-year extension in excess of $125MM. However, Siakam — who has two years left on his current deal — could also get more by putting extension talks on the backburner.
  • The Celtics are hiring Craig Luschenat as a player development coach, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. Luschenat has been on the staff of the team’s G League affiliate in Maine.

Raptors Rumors: VanVleet, Young, Boucher, Bamba, Gobert

The Raptors and Fred VanVleet appear on track to reach an agreement on a four-year contract extension that could approach $120MM in total value, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

VanVleet, who will be extension-eligible this offseason, will earn $21.25MM in 2022/23 and has a $22.82MM player option for 2023/24. If he were to decline that option, he could sign a four-year extension worth up to $114.24MM, so Fischer’s $120MM projection looks a little high.

Still, it sounds as if the Raptors will be prepared to offer VanVleet the maximum amount he can receive on an extension. The All-Star point guard would become eligible for a more lucrative contract if he plays out the ’22/23 season, then turns down his player option to become a free agent next summer. But an extension worth $28.5MM per year that locks him up until age 33 may be hard to pass up.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • According to Fischer, Thaddeus Young appears likely to remain in Toronto, potentially on a two-year contract agreement worth at least $10MM. Young was acquired by the Raptors from San Antonio in a trade deadline deal in February.
  • Young is one of the Raptors’ two key free agents this offseason, along with big man Chris Boucher. Zach Kram of The Ringer makes a case for why he considers Boucher the most interesting free agent on the market due to his unusual combination of skills and physical traits.
  • The Raptors and Bulls are among the teams that appear to have interest in Magic big man Mohamed Bamba, Fischer reports. However, Bamba will be a restricted free agent and may not leave Orlando — he and the Magic are motivated to work out a new deal, sources tell Fischer.
  • In considering potential landing spots for Suns restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton, Fischer notes that the Raptors continue to monitor the availability of a handful of top big men, including Jazz star Rudy Gobert. While Ayton may also be on the team’s radar, Toronto won’t have cap room and could only acquire him via sign-and-trade.

Raptors’ Fred VanVleet “Confident” About Signing Extension

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who is eligible for an extension this summer, said he’s “confident” that the two sides will reach a long-term agreement.

I’m not really too worried about contract discussions or anything like that,” VanVleet said in an interview with Adam Laskaris of Daily Hive. “That’s just the business aspect of it. And I’m confident that we’ll figure it out.”

As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported a couple days ago, if VanVleet keeps his player option for 2023/24, he could extend for up to three years and $89MM this summer. If he declines the option, he could extend for up to four years and $114MM.

The 28-year-old has spent all six of his NBA seasons with Toronto, and he hopes he remains with the club for his entire career.

I love being a Raptor,” VanVleet said, per Laskaris. “I would love to spend my entire career here. We have a great relationship with the city, the franchise, ownership, management… it’s a match made in heaven for me.”

An All-Star for the first time in 2021/22, VanVleet averaged 20.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6.7 APG and 1.7 SPG on .403/.377/.874 shooting in 65 regular season games (37.9 MPG). Unfortunately, he was clearly limited by knee and hip injuries in the second half of the season, with all of his averages falling off dramatically.

The injuries sidelined him for the final two games of the postseason, when Toronto fell to Philadelphia in six games. He was also limited to just 14 minutes in Game 4 of the first-round series, missing the entire second half of the contest.

I was kind of down a little bit the way the season ended and obviously being hurt,” VanVleet said of his offseason training. “Right now priority number one is my body. When I go out there on that court and I feel great, and my body’s feeling strong and fast, I feel like I’m one of the top players in the league. So I’ve just got to find a way to maintain that, sustain that as long as possible.”

It’s an interesting interview from Laskaris and worth checking out in full.

Raptors Rumors: Anunoby, VanVleet, Boucher, Young, More

The Raptors aren’t actively looking to trade forward OG Anunoby, Michael Scotto said in the latest episode of The HoopsHype Podcast. According to Scotto, it would require a “substantial” return for Toronto to consider moving Anunoby, along the lines of a significant upgrade at center or a top-10 draft pick. That’s similar to what Jake Fischer has recently reported.

Scotto’s guest, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet 590 The Fan, agrees that it would take “a lot” for the Raptors to seriously considering moving Anunoby, noting that assistant GM Dan Tolzman recently expressed skepticism when asked if the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft would develop at the same rate and with the same ceiling as Anunoby.

While Murphy acknowledges that Anunoby would be an obvious trade candidate if the Raptors attempt to trade for an impact player, he believes the team would rather enter the 2022/23 season without a traditional center than include Anunoby in a trade for a center who isn’t as well-rounded and versatile a player as the 24-year-old forward.

Murphy and Scotto also point out that Toronto is high on Precious Achiuwa, whose role would be cut back if the team added a starting center to play 30-35 minutes per night.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Fred VanVleet and the Raptors are expected to discuss a possible contract extension this offseason, league sources tell Scotto. If VanVleet were to decline his 2023/24 player option, he could extend for up to four years and $114MM this summer. However, Murphy doesn’t think there will be a rush to get anything done, since Toronto will hold VanVleet’s Bird rights and would be in the driver’s seat to re-sign him if he opts out in 2023.
  • The Raptors have interest in re-signing both Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young in free agency, according to Scotto. Murphy observes that the team should have about $31MM in wiggle room below the luxury tax line, which could be used to bring back Boucher and Young and fill out the roster, possibly using the mid-level exception. A deal in the mid-level range ($10MM) might make sense for Boucher, Murphy adds.
  • Addressing Boucher’s free agency in his own story today, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report suggested that it seems safe to “pencil in” the big man’s return to Toronto.
  • Svi Mykhailiuk‘s decision on his $1.88MM player option may go down to the wire, according to Scotto, who says June 22 is the deadline for Mykhailiuk to opt in.
  • Murphy would be shocked if two-way restricted free agent Justin Champagnie doesn’t remain with the Raptors, perhaps on a two-year, minimum-salary deal.

Atlantic Notes: Horford, Udoka, Ainge, Raptors

Al Horford, who was languishing with the rebuilding Thunder a year ago, is now headed to the NBA Finals in his second stint with the Celtics and couldn’t be more grateful, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes.

“On the phone, I would look at photos from a year ago, exactly what I was doing at the moment, and today my son actually graduated from kindergarten,” Horford said. “So I remember that we had pictures for him, and I picked him up from school, and we had the cupcakes and we had all this stuff. So it’s like perspective for me, like I always look back and see where I was just day to day. I’m just very grateful to be in this position with these guys.”

Horford, 35, has been a major factor in the Celtics’ run. He is averaging 11.9 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.6 BPG in the postseason. As we noted earlier, Horford now has a $19.5MM guarantee on his $26.5MM contract for next season.

“When he came back, that gave us a sense of security,” Marcus Smart said. “We got Al back there, he’s always going to make the right play on both ends.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Ime Udoka was the runner-up for numerous head coaching jobs but is glad that he wound up with the Celtics instead of a rebuilding team, he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports“You really want me to tell you? Detroit, Indiana, Cleveland,” Udoka said of the jobs he nearly got. “I can go down the list. That was tough because I believe I was ready. But I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of an organization that’s pushing for winning and championships. You can be in a lot of different situations. There are only 30 teams and I get that, but to not be in a rebuild and being in an expectation pressure-filled situation, I wouldn’t trade that in any day.”
  • In an interview with Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett, Jazz CEO Danny Ainge offered high praise to the man who replaced him in Boston, former Celtics coach Brad Stevens. Getting Kemba Walker‘s contract off the books was a particularly shrewd move, according to Ainge. “I think that, by moving Kemba, it allowed Marcus, Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum) and Robert Williams to really thrive in positional size, with Horford taking up a big responsibility in the front line for Robert and moving Jaylen, Jayson and Marcus to their positions where they can have size advantages.”
  • Fred VanVleet can re-enter the free agent market with a player option next summer and The Athletic’s John Hollinger believes the Raptors should pursue an extension with him in the range of $25MM annually. Hollinger and Eric Koreen takes a closer look at all the Raptors’ free agent, draft and extension decisions.

2021/2022 All-NBA Teams Announced

The 2021/22 All-NBA teams have officially been announced by the NBA. For the fourth straight season, Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was unanimously selected to the All-NBA First Team by a voter panel of 100 media members. Antetokounmpo, 27, is making his sixth All-NBA team overall.

Antetokounmpo, reigning MVP Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, and Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic received the most votes. Suns All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker and Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid rounded out the list of top five vote-getters. Because the All-NBA teams, unlike the All-Star squads, require just one center per team, Embiid was relegated to an All-NBA Second Team placing.

Below is a list of the three All-NBA teams. Vote tallies are listed in parentheses next to player names. Five points were awarded to players for a First Team Vote, three points netted for a Second Team vote, and one for a Third Team vote. Antetokounmpo earned a perfect 500 points.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, Heat center Bam Adebayo and small forward Jimmy Butler, Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, Bucks guards Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, Grizzlies shooting guard Desmond Bane, Suns small forward Mikal Bridges, Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, and Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet all received All-NBA votes. Surprisingly, Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who played in just 29 games this season, also received a single vote.

As we previously outlined, the All-NBA selections come with significant financial ramifications. As a result of being named to All-NBA teams, Booker and Towns have become eligible for super-max extensions that would begin in 2024/25. If they’re signed this offseason, those deals would be for four years and would start at 35% of the ’24/25 cap. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN (via Twitter), they currently project to be worth $211MM apiece.

Young’s five-year contract extension, which was signed last August and will go into effect in 2022/23, will now be worth 30% of next season’s cap instead of 25% by virtue of his All-NBA selection. Based on a projected $122MM cap, that means it’ll be worth about $212MM instead of $177MM.

Jokic had already met the super-max requirements prior to this announcement, since he won last year’s MVP award — he’s eligible to sign a five-year, super-max extension this offseason and has said he plans to do so. Doncic, who signed a maximum-salary contract extension last summer, also previously met the super-max criteria by earning All-NBA nods in 2020 and 2021.

Notable players who are not eligible this offseason for super-max deals include Morant and Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine. As Marks tweets, Morant needs to make the All-NBA team again in 2023 to qualify for a starting salary worth 30% of the cap (instead of 25%) on his next deal.

LaVine, a free agent this offseason, would have been eligible to earn up to 35% of next season’s cap from the Bulls if he had made an All-NBA team, but will instead be able to earn no more than 30% of the ’22/23 cap on his next contract.

With their inclusions, Morant, Booker, and Young are making their All-NBA team debuts. Meanwhile, on the other side of the NBA aging curve, two 37-year-old veterans further cemented their Hall of Fame credentials during the 2021/22 season. James made his 18th All-NBA team, while Paul was named to his 11th All-NBA team.