Terms of the deal were not officially announced, but there are no reasons to doubt the initial reporting of a two-year, $18-million contract for VanVleet. The second-year guard was a finalist for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season, and averaged 8.6 points and 3.2 assists in 76 games. He led the team in long-range shooting, hitting 41% of his triples on the year.
This deal makes sense in many ways, and there’s not a lot to complain about, whether you’re the team, VanVleet or a fan.
The team gets arguably it’s best bench player back in the fold as they prepare to make a run at the LeBron James-less Eastern conference. The deal ties VanVleet to this Raptors core for the next two years and then, when that term is over, they can decide to completely detonate things or re-sign VanVleet as the PG of the future.
For VanVleet, the contract presents about the best money he could make, with a team that has a clearly defined role for him. Part of me thinks Fred may have wanted a longer term, but then again, I suspect his confidence in himself means he’s more than OK with “betting on himself” again in two years—either with the Raptors or somewhere else.
For fans, I think it’s safe to say VanVleet exceeded all expectations in his first two years in the NBA, going from undrafted fee agent pick-up to being such a key cog that we worried we wouldn’t be able to beat the 8th-seeded Wizards without him. Dwane Casey had such confidence in VanVleet that he started Fred against the Cavaliers in a desperate attempt to turn that series around. (Unfortunately, even mighty Fred couldn’t make that miracle happen.)
The only one who might get pinched by this deal is Delon Wright. Wright will be a free agent next summer, and the Raptors may not be able to pay him and VanVleet big money to back up Kyle Lowry. (And Norman Powell is sucking up a lot of money on the wing, too.)
But, that’s a bridge to cross next summer. For now, the full bench mob is back in the fold for the 2018-19 season, and that’s a reason to rejoice.