Fred VanVleet

Southwest Notes: VanVleet, Green, Reaves, Pelicans

Rockets fans shouldn’t expect Fred VanVleet‘s production to match up with the three-year, $128MM+ contract he received in free agency, Eric Koreen of The Athletic states during a discussion with fellow Athletic writer Kelly Iko.

VanVleet’s salary is based on the amount of money the Rockets had to spend and a late bidding war with the Raptors, who were trying to keep him. Although Koreen expects VanVleet to help move the Rockets in the right direction, he adds that the veteran point guard won’t become the number one option in clutch situations.

Houston’s disorganization over the past three seasons began with the lack of a true point guard, which is why there was a desire to add VanVleet. Koreen points out that he averaged 3.54 assists per turnover last season, which ranked third in the league. VanVleet should create better scoring opportunities for his young teammates while avoiding costly turnovers that have plagued the Rockets during their rebuilding process.

Koreen also expects VanVleet to make a difference as a team leader. New coach Ime Udoka doesn’t mind challenging players directly, so VanVleet won’t have to do that. Koreen sees his role as a “translator” who can help make sure that Udoka’s harsh messages are received constructively.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets officials are happy with the commitment they’ve seen from Jalen Green this summer, team sources tell Iko in a separate story. Green trained extensively with other NBA players in California, and Udoka was often in attendance. Green was reportedly “stronger, fitter and most importantly, smarter” when he showed up in Las Vegas to be part of the Select Team.
  • The Spurs considered two potential offers for Lakers guard Austin Reaves in free agency, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. San Antonio pondered a maximum contract that would have paid Reaves about $100MM over four years and a shorter arrangement valued at $60MM over three years. The Spurs and everyone else were eventually dissuaded by L.A.’s insistence that it would match any offer given to Reaves.
  • The Pelicans are offering fans a chance at cash prizes if the team wins the first-ever in-season tournament, writes Christian Clark of NOLA. One hundred fans would split a $1MM cash prize, giving them $10,000 each. To be eligible, fans must purchase a mobile ticket and attend at least one tournament game in New Orleans.

Contract Details: Sabonis, Middleton, VanVleet, Russell, Clark

The Kings’ renegotiation and extension of Domantas Sabonis‘ contract includes $203.6MM in guaranteed money, Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype tweets. The five-year deal also includes $13MM in incentives, raising its potential value to $216.6MM.

Sacramento used $8.6MM in cap room to give Sabonis a raise on next season’s salary – from $22MM to $30.6MM — then added four more years via the extension.

We have more contract-related notes:

  • Khris Middleton has a player option in the final season of his new three-year deal with the Bucks, Scotto tweets. As previously reported, his contract includes $93MM in guaranteed money and another $9MM in bonus incentives.
  • Fred VanVleet‘s huge three-year contract with the Rockets includes a 15% trade kicker, according to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet (Twitter link). The previously reported team option for the third year is valued at $44.89MM.
  • D’Angelo Russell‘s two-year contract with the Lakers is guaranteed for $36MM, Spotrac contributor Keith Smith tweets. The second season is a player option and Russell has $700K in incentives for both seasons. Additionally, Russell has waived his implied no-trade clause.
  • Jaylen Clark‘s two-way contract with the Timberwolves is a two-year deal, Smith tweets.
  • Leonard Miller‘s four-year, $8.3MM contract with the Timberwolves is guaranteed for the first two years, Scotto tweets. The third year is 50% guaranteed, and the fourth year is a team option.

Rockets Notes: VanVleet, Free Agency, Brooks, Thompson

Fred VanVleet was one of the biggest winners in free agency, landing a max contract to join the Rockets as their new on-court leader, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. The veteran point guard said Houston officials have assured him that he won’t have to change anything about his game.

“They don’t want me to be anybody but myself,” VanVleet said. “And I know people are crazy about the number, but the league is growing every year and that number won’t be that number in a few years. So I know it’s a shock factor with the narrative that I have around me as an undrafted guy, but I’m going to work every day to make sure I prove every penny.”

VanVleet worked out this week with his new backcourt partner, Jalen Green, and he’s in Las Vegas to watch more of his young teammates in Summer League action. He’s looking forward to a fresh start after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Raptors.

“I owed my whole NBA career to them, but I think it was just time for a change of scenery,” VanVleet said. “I’m just really excited about being with a new group and trying to lead these guys the best I can.”

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • General manager Rafael Stone was looking for players with “an edge” when he went shopping with more than $60MM in cap space, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston was among the NBA’s worst defensive teams during its three years of rebuilding, so Stone was determined to find players who are willing to compete on that end of the court. In addition to VanVleet, he landed Jeff Green, Jock Landale and Aaron Holiday in free agency, along with Dillon Brooks in a five-team sign-and-trade deal that was finalized Saturday night. “First, they’re really good basketball players who have won a lot of games and not by accident,” Stone said. “We really wanted to add veteran players who still fit our timeline and knew how to win. And we think we accomplished that.”
  • In an interview with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Brooks said he’s looking forward to bringing his influence to a young team that needs to learn how to win. “I can’t wait to work with Tari (Eason),” Brooks said. “I feel like he can be a great player in this NBA — especially a great defender — and grow his game, his athleticism and everything.”
  • Amen Thompson‘s Summer League debut provided more evidence that the Rockets made the right pick at No. 4, Iko adds in a separate story. Before leaving with an ankle injury, the 6’7″ point guard produced 16 points, four rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals in 28 minutes and showed he knows how to attack a defense that’s daring him to shoot from the outside.

Rockets Sign Fred VanVleet To Three-Year Contract

JULY 7: The Rockets have officially signed VanVleet, the team announced today in a press release.

As previously noted, VanVleet’s three-year deal includes a third-year team option.

JUNE 30: Fred VanVleet is leaving Toronto, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links), who hears from agents Rich Paul and Erika Ruiz that the free agent point guard will join the Rockets on a three-year, maximum-salary contract.

The No. 2 player on our list of 2023’s top 50 free agents, VanVleet is the first free agent to land a max deal this summer, Wojnarowski notes. The agreement will pay him a total of $128.5MM across three seasons, including a starting salary of $40.8MM in 2023/24, which will eat up a huge chunk of Houston’s cap room.

It’s a massive payday for VanVleet, who began his NBA career in 2016 as an undrafted free agent on a minimum-salary contract. Over the course of seven seasons in Toronto, he evolved from little-used reserve to key rotation member on a championship team to All-Star starting point guard.

The former Wichita State standout signed a four-year, $85MM contract during his last foray into free agency in 2020, but opted out of that deal after the third year in order to secure an even larger payday.

VanVleet is coming off a down season, having made a career-worst 34.2% of his three-point attempts in 2022/23 as his defense also took a step back. However, it appears the Rockets are willing to chalk up his struggles to nagging injuries and bad luck rather than assuming it’s the beginning of a downward trend. The 6’1″ guard has never been a great finisher around the rim, but he was a career 38.2% three-point shooter prior to last season and has been an asset on defense in the past.

The Rockets had more cap room (approximately $64MM) than any other team in the NBA entering free agency, putting them in position to aggressively pursue their preferred targets. While James Harden was mentioned earlier in the year as a candidate to return to Houston, VanVleet had clearly become the team’s top point guard target in the days leading up to free agency.

With the Raptors doing their best to bring back VanVleet, the Rockets apparently had to tack on an extra season to the two-year, maximum-salary offer they were said to be preparing for the 29-year-old in order to secure his commitment. Even with $40MM earmarked for VanVleet, Houston still has about $25MM in cap room available to continue making moves.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear how the Raptors intend to address their suddenly gaping hole at point guard. The club had spent the last year or two seeking a reliable backup for VanVleet and will now have to find a new starter too.

[UPDATE: Raptors to sign Dennis Schröder]

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, Toronto could try to work out a sign-and-trade with Houston to generate a huge trade exception. However, there’s no reason for the Rockets to agree to that unless they’re incentivized to do so, so the Raptors would probably have to give up a second-round pick or two to make it happen.

Raptors Rumors: Siakam, Anunoby, VanVleet, Ujiri

Although he reportedly doesn’t want to play anywhere but Toronto, Pascal Siakam and the Raptors have yet to formally meet to discuss a possible contract extension, according to Michael Grange of, who says that trade speculation about the two-time All-NBA forward continues to percolate.

As Grange previously reported, the Hawks, who have been repeatedly linked to Siakam throughout the offseason, attempted to re-engage the Raptors in trade talks this past weekend, while other teams are also believed to have checked in. One possible trade scenario that Grange has heard about would involve both the Hawks and Rockets, though he’s not sure about the specifics.

Despite the rumors and speculation, it remains unclear whether the Raptors are seriously thinking about moving the 29-year-old. According to Grange, sources around the league who had questions about Toronto’s direction entering this offseason still haven’t been able to get a clear read on the front office’s plans.

“They’re not the easiest team to deal with, I’ll just say that,” one source said to Grange.

Siakam isn’t the only Raptors forward who should still be considered a possible trade candidate. OG Anunoby is entering a contract year and isn’t necessarily assured of a long-term future in Toronto. Grange says Anunoby “remains on the watch list for several teams” and singles out the Knicks as one club with considerable interest.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • According to Grange, the Raptors’ veterans – particularly Siakam and Fred VanVleet – were frustrated last season by some of the team’s younger players. VanVleet “let them know about it, something the younger set didn’t appreciate at all,” Grange writes.
  • In the same story, Grange says that Raptors president Masai Ujiri spoke to players multiple times last season to express his displeasure with “selfish play and poor body language.” According to Grange, former head coach Nick Nurse may have been planning his exit from the franchise during the season, recognizing that he would likely be let go at season’s end.
  • The best offer the Raptors were prepared to make to VanVleet in free agency was a four-year deal that included a partially guaranteed final year, with $100MM in total guaranteed money, Grange reports. VanVleet opted for the Rockets’ three-year, $128MM+ deal, even though it will reportedly only include two guaranteed seasons.
  • Blake Murphy of checks in on a number of Raptors-related topics, including where the team’s 2023/24 cap stands and why the club decided to guarantee Thaddeus Young‘s $8MM salary for the coming season.

Rockets Rumors: Lucas, Powell, Landale, VanVleet

Longtime Rockets assistant John Lucas won’t be part of Ime Udoka’s staff but he’ll remain in the organization, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. He’ll move to a front office role, working as an assistant to GM Rafael Stone.

Lucas, a former Cavaliers, Spurs and Sixers head coach, joined Mike D’Antoni’s staff in Houston during the 2016/17 season and has been with the franchise since then.

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Houston’s first-year offer to Mavericks free agent Dwight Powell was higher than the $8MM Jock Landale will receive next season as part of his four-year, $32MM contract agreement with Houston, Marc Stein reports in a Substack post. Powell decided to take the Mavs’ three-year offer, even though it totaled only $12MM. Only the first year of Landale’s contract is guaranteed — it’s probably safe to assume the same was true of the offer for Powell.
  • Speaking of Landale, he knows he has to show the Rockets he’s worthy of getting the full value to his contract, he told ESPN’s Olgun Uluc. “I felt as though I’d worked my way to when I played and when I played heavy minutes, I always produced,” Landale said. “If I can get the trust of a coach who has the front office behind me, and they’re all supportive of the decision, absolutely I believe I can play to that contract. I also feel that, given it’s non-guaranteed, there’s no ability for me to take my foot off the gas, and I feel that’s really important and plays into my character a bit. I’ve still got to earn everything.”
  • While they paid an extremely high price financially, the Rockets finally have a much-needed stabilizing presence, leader and offensive connector in Fred VanVleet, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes. Houston’s offense lacked cohesion and control in recent seasons and VanVleet’s presence should change that.

Rockets Notes: Free Agency, Green, Lopez, Whitmore, Tate

The Rockets were the most active team on the free agent market this weekend — signing four players and jettisoning a significant amount of their young talent — but their future will still be built around the core they put together in the last three drafts, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

The big-money additions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks, along with smaller deals for Jock Landale and Jeff Green, are designed to complement Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith and Amen Thompson, according to Feigen. Kevin Porter Jr. should also be considered part of that group, Feigen adds, as he remains in the team’s long-term plans along with Tari Eason and Cam Whitmore.

All the new additions will have clear roles alongside those players, Feigen notes. VanVleet will run the offense for a team that often seemed disorganized during its three years of rebuilding. He also improves the defense with his ability to get steals and deflections and has shown that he can be effective while playing off the ball. Brooks will be the team’s best perimeter defender, while Landale and Green will back up Sengun and Smith.

There’s more from Houston:

  • Green’s new $6MM contract is small enough to be absorbed with the team’s $7.7MM room exception before the Brooks trade is completed, Feigen adds. However, he says the more likely scenario is that the team will keep the exception open and use it, along with roughly $4.5MM in remaining cap space, to see if it can sign anyone else.
  • The Rockets are surveying the market to find guard depth with the money they have left, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Iko states that a veteran who can handle either backcourt position would be ideal for the current roster.
  • Iko cites “genuine internal disappointment” among Rockets officials when center Brook Lopez opted to remain in Milwaukee instead of taking their offer, which was reported to be around $40MM for two years. Having Landale and Green on the roster instead of Lopez makes Sengun the clear starting center and should help with his development, Iko notes.
  • The roster additions mean the Rockets can afford to be patient with rookie Cam Whitmore, with Iko suggesting that the 20th overall pick could see some time in the G League.
  • Teams have asked about swingman Jae’Sean Tate during the offseason, but the Rockets still appear to view him as an important part of their future, Iko tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Porzingis, Petrusev, VanVleet

Longtime Celtics guard Marcus Smart had a conversation with team president Brad Stevens in mid-June and was assured at that time that he’d remain with the team this summer, Smart tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. A week later, he was gone, having been traded to the Grizzlies as part of a three-team package to send Kristaps Porzingis to Boston.

“It was a shock,” Smart said. “My agent called my fiancée and she woke me up out of a sleep, literally, right after the deal had been made and I think [the media] had already tweeted it out. That’s how we found out.”

The Celtics had originally intended to include another guard, Malcolm Brogdon, as part of a three-team deal with the Clippers that would have landed them Porzingis. However, those talks fell through, forcing Boston to pivot to the deal sending Smart to Memphis. Smart said he understands it’s a “business” and has no hard feelings toward the organization, even if he didn’t learn about his exit in the way he would’ve liked.

“Anybody who knows me knows that I’m the first one to tell people, you can’t put personal with business, it just doesn’t mix,” he said. “… But for me, it was just the [lack of] courtesy. They probably already knew they were thinking about trading me. They had this trade in their back pocket just in case something else didn’t happen.”

Smart enjoyed a solid run with the Celtics, even earning Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2022 en route to an NBA Finals appearance. His defense slipped somewhat in 2022/23, but he remain a valuable two-way leader on a club that wound up being just one win shy of a second consecutive Finals.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The two-year, $60MM extension Porzingis is finalizing with the Celtics could become as a massive monetary coup for Boston, argues Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. The reported deal, which will begin in 2024/25, is worth $17MM less than the maximum possible extension Porzingis could have signed off his current contract, and Forsberg believes a strong season would have put the big man in position to command even more money had he reached unrestricted free agency next summer. Porzingis enjoyed one of his healthiest seasons in years and was fairly effective with the Wizards on both sides of the hardwood in ’22/23.
  • Two years after being drafted with the No. 50 pick out of Gonzaga by the Sixers, big man Filip Petrusev is confident he can produce at the NBA level, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Following his selection in the draft, the 6’11” center suited up for teams in Turkey and Belgrade. Petrusev, who will play on Philadelphia’s summer league club this month, is hoping to ink a deal with the Sixers for the 2023/24 season.
  • Longtime Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, who won a title with Toronto in 2019, is moving on to the Rockets on a lucrative new contract. He penned a heartfelt farewell missive to the team on his official Instagram. “I am forever indebted to the franchise that gave me a shot when no one else would,” VanVleet wrote. “We built things together that can never be broken and accomplished things that will stand forever… To the city, franchise and country that watched me grow… THANK YOU.”

Free Agency Rumors: G. Williams, Hornets, VanVleet, Blazers, Tavares

The Hornets are mulling the possibility of an offer sheet for Celtics restricted free agent forward Grant Williams, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Williams has also drawn some interest from the Mavericks, according to Scotto.

The Hornets are currently operating as an over-the-cap team, which means they could offer up to the full $12.4MM mid-level exception in a deal for Williams. They have a potential path to creating cap room to make a stronger bid, but it would require renouncing the cap holds for multiple free agents, including their own RFA forwards P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges. The Hornets have also engaged in contract discussions with Washington, Scotto reports.

Here are a few more free agency notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • The third and final season of Fred VanVleet‘s new three-year deal with the Rockets will be a team option, according to Jackson Gatlin of Locked on Rockets (Twitter link). A non-guaranteed third year makes the deal look considerably more team-friendly — and considerably more like the two-year offer the Rockets were originally said to be preparing for the veteran point guard.
  • Veteran center Edy Tavares, a second-round pick in 2014, has received a contract offer from the Trail Blazers, sources tell Donatas Urbonas of Tavares played just 13 games during his initial NBA stint, but is apparently earning another look after several strong seasons with Real Madrid, with whom he has won two EuroLeague titles and earned three All-EuroLeague First Team nods. However, Tavares’ contract includes a significant buyout, which may preclude a move stateside, Urbonas explains. His deal with Real Madrid will expire in 2024 if he doesn’t sign an extension before then.
  • Donte DiVincenzo drew “strong” interest from three other teams during his free agency before he agreed to sign with New York, reports Ian Begley of (Twitter link). While DiVincenzo’s Villanova connection to Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart was a factor in his decision to join the Knicks, he also believes his new team can be a contender. “He wants to win and has a great opportunity to do so in New York,” a source said to Begley.

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Schroder, Anunoby, Coaching Staff

The Raptors and Rockets both increased their offers to Fred VanVleet Friday night before he decided to sign with Houston, according to Michael Grange of

Toronto had been hesitant to exceed $90MM over three years, with one source describing it to Grange as a “glass ceiling.” Although VanVleet is one of the most accomplished players in franchise history, he has missed 30 combined games due to injury over the last two years and he shot career lows both from the field and from three-point range last season. There were also concerns that going beyond that limit would inhibit the team’s ability to make other moves, such as re-signing center Jakob Poeltl.

The situation changed when rumors of James Harden returning to Houston died down and the Raptors realized that VanVleet had become the Rockets’ number one target. During a meeting with VanVleet shortly after the start of free agency, Raptors officials presented him with an expanded offer that brought it to $120MM for four seasons.

Sources tell Grange that VanVleet next met with the Rockets, who also added a year to their offer, increasing it to three years at nearly $129MM. After nearly three hours of waiting, the Raptors learned that they were losing their starting point guard.

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Lakers players will miss Dennis Schröder, whom the Raptors quickly signed as VanVleet’s replacement, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Austin Reaves called Schroder “one of the best teammates I’ve met” and said his commitment to winning over everything else made him stand out.
  • Before OG Anunoby finalized a change in his representation, he told prospective agents that he wants a situation with more ball-handling and playmaking responsibilities when he signs his next contract, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. VanVleet’s departure and the addition of Darko Rajakovic as head coach might provide that opportunity for Anunoby in Toronto, Fischer suggests.
  • James Wade is the latest addition to Rajakovic’s coaching staff, tweets James Kay of TheNextHoops. Wade had been the general manager and head coach of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.