The Toronto Raptors and shooting guard Fred VanVleet failed to work out a contract extension, so the Raptors could trade away their All-Star sniper. The Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, and Miami Heat are all interested in acquiring a high-volume shooter like VanVleet before the upcoming trade deadline.
VanVleet wants to stay in Toronto, where he won a championship in the 2018-19 season. He agreed with the Raptors to postpone contract discussions until the conclusion of this season. However, he might not be with the team by the time the summer rolls around.
I’m completely focused on this team,” VanVleet told The Athletic. “My loyalty is to this team and to this franchise and trying to get us back to the level that we’re accustomed to around here.”
VanVleet signed a four-year deal with the Raptors in 2020 worth $85 million. He earns $21.5 million this season, and he’s due $22.8 million next season. He seeks an extension that’s worth approximately $100 million over three seasons.
In 37 games this season, VanVleet averages 18.7 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game. He’s the second-best scorer on the Raptors, but his scoring average is down from last season when he averaged a career-high 20.7 points per game.
VanVleet recently posted back-to-back 30-point games including a season-high 39 points against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Raptors Projected to Finish Under .500
The Raptors (20-25) are currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. They are only a half-game back behind the Chicago Bulls in tenth place, which would be the final spot in the Play-In Tournament.
The Raptors are among the bottom 12 teams on DraftKings’ futures board at +10000 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA Championship. The Raptors are in last place in the Atlantic Division, and trail the first-place Boston Celtics by 13 games. Oddsmakers think they have next to no chance to win the division at +70000 odds.
According to DraftKings’ NBA prop bets, the Raptors have a win a win total set at 39.5 over/under. FiveThirtyEight projects the Raptors will finish the season with a 38-44 record, but they have a 23% chance to qualify for the playoffs.
DraftKings offers a “Make the Playoffs” prop bet for different NBA teams. The Raptors are +190 odds to make the playoffs, but -240 odds to not make the playoffs.
Shams Charania from The Athletic reported that the Raptors are one of the many teams that would be active at the trade deadline. The Raptors are currently on the Eastern Conference playoff bubble, but they’d rather trade away their best players to put themselves in a position to reboot the team next season.
VanVleet, forward OG Anunoby, and guard Gary Trent, Jr. were all mentioned in trade rumors. The Raptors want to keep Pascal Siakim and last year’s Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, and rebuild around those forwards.
Decimated Suns Need VanVleet
Injuries to three starters sent the Phoenix Suns off kilter, but a trade for VanVleet could help get them back on track.
The Suns are 21-24 this season and currently in 12th place in the Western Conference standings. If the season ended today, they would not even qualify for the Play-In Tournament. This quite the shocker considering the Suns were the #1 seed in the Western Conference last season after posting the best record in the league.
The Suns are +4000 odds to win the championship, and+950 odds to win the Western Conference title for a second time in the last three seasons.
The Suns were 15-6 at the end of November, but won only six times in their last 24 games. Shooting guard Devin Booker has not played since late December when he suffered a groin injury. He’s expected to miss a month of action but return soon.
Chris Paul is one of the top point guards in the league when he’s healthy and in the lineup. The injury-prone Paul missed 19 games this season. He has not played since early January due to a hip injury.
Forward Cam Johnson sustained a knee injury in early November, and he missed 37 games this season. He’s expected to return tonight, but the Suns missed his scoring. Johnson excelled last season as the Suns’ sixth man who provided instant offense off the bench. When forward Jae Crowder sat out this season due to a contract dispute, head coach Monty Williams inserted Johnson into the starting lineup.
If VanVleet joins the Suns in a trade, Williams could use him as a Sixth Man, or he could fill in as a starter if Booker or Paul misses any time in the second half of the season.
Magic and Heat Like VanVleet, Heading to Florida?
The Miami Heat were one game away from advancing to the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons. The banged-up Heat were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals. Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, and Jimmy Butler were all nursing injuries that series, yet nearly beat the Celtics.
With a 25-21 record, the Miami Heat are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. They’re 8.5 games out of first place, but only 4.5 games ahead of the Raptors on the playoff bubble.
Lowry and VanVleet won a championship together when the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals. The Heat could reunite the two former teammates to help get them over the hump in the Eastern Conference.
The Heat are +1800 odds to win the Eastern Conference, and +4000 odds to win the NBA championship.
The Orlando Magic are one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference and in 13th place out of 15 teams. With a 16-28 record, the Magic are the fifth-worst team in the NBA and on place to secure another lottery pick. The Magic are at the bottom of the futures board at +100000 odds to win the championship.
The Magic are loaded with talented young players like Franz Wagner and 2023 Rookie of the Year favorite Paolo Banchero. The Magic need a savvy veteran like VanVleet, who has playoff experience and won a championship, to provide leadership and stability in the locker room going forward.
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