Latest NBA Trade Deadline Rumors Surrounding Fred VanVleet

Latest NBA Trade Deadline Rumors Surrounding Fred VanVleet

Updated: 2 months, 1 day, 12 hours, 11 minutes, 24 seconds ago

The Toronto Raptors have some tough decisions to make ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Among them is the future of Fred VanVleet, who is set to become a free agent during the upcoming summer after he declines a $22.8 million player option.

VanVleet is averaging 19.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists in 36.7 minutes per game this season. His efficiency has struggled as he’s shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from 3-point range. However, he’s never been the type of player that produces ideal shooting splits. He will have plenty of suitors in the offseason.

VanVleet had signed a four-year, $85 million contract prior that began during the 2020-21 season. He is set to earn yet another substantial payday. Do the 21-27 Raptors want to give a small guard a massive new deal as he nears 30?

Ahead of a loaded NBA Draft class headlined by Victor Wembenyama, the Raptors are likely best suited to trade off their aging veterans to stack up on draft capital as one of the few deadline sellers out there. With Scottie Barnes to develop, Toronto could bottom out for the remainder of the season to maximize its lottery odds, then add another elite prospect to develop.

Doing so would likely involve the Raptors moving on from VanVleet before they risk losing him for nothing in free agency. If they were to take that course of action, where could he potentially end up?

According to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, the teams that could pursue a trade for VanVleet ahead of the midseason deadline include the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, and Washington Wizards.

With VanVleet set to reach free agency barring a contract extension, he essentially has genuine influence over his landing spot. There is little value in trading for him as a rental if he is going to depart. That’s just too costly of a move. He likely ends up on a team that intends to re-sign him.

League sources have told NBA Analysis Network that the Lakers are a team to watch “very closely” as a potential deadline suitor for VanVleet. The move to acquire Rui Hachimura adds a significant cap hold that negates the potential advantages of allowing Russell Westbrook’s expiring contract to come off the books simply. Instead, utilizing it at the midseason deadline is the most viable outcome.

A logical trade framework could involve the Lakers acquiring VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. with a salary filler to help send out enough salary to take on Westbrook’s $47.0 million salary reasonably. Both players would be strong candidates to be re-signed in the offseason — making it as though the Lakers are getting their free agency work done early, as is the case with modern NBA talent acquisition.

With the Lakers acquiring Hachimura and gaining Anthony Davis back from injury, adding VanVleet and Trent could make them a threat in an open Western Conference. LeBron James would have a new starting backcourt and a new starter at the four spot. Dennis Schroder could revert to being in a sixth-man role, and the team would still have Patrick Beverley’s $13.0 million expiring salary to leverage as a possible trade chip.