Toronto Raptors’ free agent point guard Fred VanVleet was looking forward to getting paid this offseason after enjoying his best season in the NBA by averaging a career best 17.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game.
Unfortunately, timing is everything and despite being one of the players leading the Raptors to the second best record in the East and third best record in the NBA, Fred’s chances of a big pay day don’t look promising. Currently making less than $10 million per year, VanVleet’s hopes for a multi-year contract paying more than $20 million per year may have been crushed by the league’s mounting losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Complicating the situation even more, the Raptors may not be willing to pay Fred the $15 to $18 million that most pundits are predicting he’s likely to be offered on the free agent market by teams like the Detroit Pistons. After signing Pascal Siakam to a max contract, the Raptors are looking to clear cap space to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo next offseason and aren’t willing to sign long term contracts with any player other than OG Anunoby.
With the Miami Heat being the only non-losing team with cap space to sign VanVleet to big contract, there might be an opportunity for the Lakers to swoop in and steal Fred VanVleet in a sign-and-trade deal with Toronto. While the Lakers don’t have the cap space to sign Fred as a free agent, here are five reasons why they should pursue a sign-and-trade deal to send Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and their 2020 first round draft pick for VanVleet:
1. Championship Point Guard
Fred VanVleet proved in last year’s NBA Finals that he is a championship caliber point guard, averaging 14.0points, 2.2assists, and 2.7rebounds while shooting 44.4/40.0/85.7% and even receiving a vote for Finals MVP.
2. Proven Clutch Scorer
VanVleet was the star in the Raptors series clinching win in Game 6 of last year’s finals when he scored a career playoff best 22 points including 12 clutch points in the fourth quarter to lead Toronto to their first title.
3. Tough Relentless Defender
Fred VanVleet is not just a one-way player as he proved in last year’s Finals when he hounded and harrassed Warriors’ superstar Steph Curry in the Raptors 4–2 triumph forcing him into tough shots and turnovers.
4. Has Not Reached His Peak
Just a 26-year old who has improved every major stat in each of his four NBA seasons, VanVleet could give the Lakers a second young star to play with LeBron James and create a bridge to the future with Anthony Davis.
5. Trading Chip for Giannis
Giving VanVleet a 3-year contract at $20 million per year would help the Lakers’ chances of winning championships plus give them an valuable trading chip in a potential sign-and-trade deal for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
While Fred VanVleet wants to get paid, I believe he also wants to win. To me, that means he would likely be very interested if the Lakers were to approach him about a possible 3-year sign-and-trade deal for $60 million. Since Green’s $15 million expiring contract wouldn’t hurt their plans to chase Giannis, the Raptors would get a young star in Kuzma plus a first round draft pick for a player they were going to let walk for nothing.
Meanwhile, the Lakers would upgrade their roster with a talented two-way point guard who would fill their urgent need for a third scorer and second playmaker to complement superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.