With him fully expected to opt out of the final year of his deal with the Toronto Raptors, Fred VanVleet free agency 2023 is — almost — officially underway. The tweener guard from the Raptors was one of the best point guards last season, and he’s most definitely earned every single penny he’s about to make.

VanVleet signed a four-year extension worth north of $80 million with the Raptors back in 2020. Now, the contract projection for VanVleet could have him eclipsing the $25 million yearly plateau, given the fact that he’s never stopped improving.

Fred VanVleet free agency 2023

But where could he land? What team could be better suited for his talents, and more importantly, who’s going to be willing to pay him as much as he wants to be paid? Let’s take a deep look at the market and answer all of these questions and some more.

5. Phoenix Suns

Whatever happens this summer, it’s become evident that the Phoenix Suns need to move on from Chris Paul in the offseason. Paul is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest point guards in the history of this beautiful game, but he’s proven to be unreliable in the postseason, mostly because he’s seldom healthy at that point in the year.

It’s unfortunate, but the Suns’ title window might close right before their eyes, and a lot of that will have to do with not having a solid backup point guard or even one that could stay healthy. VanVleet comes with a championship pedigree, and he could also play off the ball in small-ball lineups with Devin Booker sliding to the three.

 
 
 
 

The Suns have lacked depth since trading for Kevin Durant, so maybe committing big money to another player won’t be the wisest choice for this team right now. But with a new owner in town, there could be more than plenty of cash to spare.

4. Toronto Raptors

VanVleet free agent status doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to do anything with the Toronto Raptors anymore. We’ve seen this happen in the league over and over; it’s just business. He’s already established himself as a fan favorite, and why go through all the burden that comes with moving?

Fred VanVleet is one of the team’s leaders and veterans. Masai Ujiri hinted at the possibility of signing to yet another big contract once his time came, and he would be wise to at least try and honor his word by keeping him around while he still can.

The Raptors will no longer have Nick Nurse calling the shots. And while the reports didn’t point the finger at anyone, there were rumors about a potential rift between him and some of the players. Maybe his departure is just what Fred needed to think twice and decide to stay.

3. Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are always looking to get better. The shiny lights of Hollywood, the lifestyle of Southern California, plus the chance to play with LeBron James and don the Purple and Gold jersey are always attractive on their own.

Rob Pelinka has worked his magic since taking over as GM, so you better believe he could find a way to make the numbers work. VanVleet would be a massive improvement over D’Angelo Russell, and he could also play off the ball while LeBron pulls the strings of the offense, should that be the case.

The Los Angeles Lakers are always looking to bring in top-notch players, and LeBron somehow always manages to get people to take a paycut. He’s no Kyrie Irving, but he’s definitely more trustworthy, reliable, and even a better defender.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

Likewise, the Los Angeles Clippers could also offer some of the perks that come with going to Southern California. They may not have the championship pedigree of the Lakers, but they’ll open a new arena soon, and need some stars to lure people in.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can’t seem to stay healthy, so the team needs to leave no stone unturned in their attempt to find more firepower. Russell Westbrook was solid in the couple of months he was there and they reportedly want to bring him back, but he’s not the best fit for Tyronn Lue‘s system by any means.

Having VanVleet on the court would give them another shot-creator, both for himself and for others. He could help them stretch the floor with his three-point shooting, and he’s a much better point-of-attack defender than Westbrook.

1. Miami Heat

In one of the most bizarre events of the season, the Miami Heat couldn’t strike a deal to land another All-Star because Pat Riley was taking a nap and was unable to approve the deal. That’s not going to happen to him again, and you can bet your house on that.

The Heat have been looking for another star for quite a while, and they have to get better at the point guard position. Kyle Lowry isn’t getting any younger, so why not replace him with someone that has already done that in the past?

Jimmy Butler is a fearless competitor and he’ll do the most with the hand he’s given. So, imagine what he could do with a better supporting cast around him, and that’s more than reason enough for the Heat to try and make a run at Fred VanVleet.

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