The Toronto Raptors fell short of defending their NBA title although not all gave them much of a fighting chance. They lost Kawhi Leonard but head coach Nick Nurse still managed to draw out the best from his players. One of them is Fred VanVleet, someone that Raptors president Masai Ujiri says is a priority signing this offseason.
Speaking to NBA.com, Ujiri seems to know the value of VanVleet. This season, the 26-year-old guard averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds. He is seen as someone who could take over from Kyle Lowry in the future. Lowery is already 34 and is in the final year of his deal with the Raptors.
VanVleet is expected to be handed several offers this offseason. This early, one team who has expressed interest in the 6-foot guard is the New York Knicks. Unlike Toronto, New York is in a big of a mess right now as it tries to rebuild yet again.
Heading there could be profitable although the Wichita State star may have to extend his patience. The Knicks need a major overhaul and the coming season could be a transition phase. At least making it to the playoffs is not a certainty until the team takes shape.
Considering VanVleet is coming off an NBA title and fared well this 2019-20 season, he may have to whittle down options. Though he could be offered a huge amount of money, winning at Gotham raises questions. There are other teams likely to court him although he has already made it clear he wants to remain with the Raptors.
Beyond VanVleet, there are other players Ujiri needs to address. Set to become unrestricted free agents as well are Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Rondae Hollison-Jefferson. Keeping Gasol and Ibaka makes sense although it could be on a short-term deal. Hollison-Jefferson could be a second option, depending on if the other two re-sign.
Gasol could be questionable with reports from Sportando that the 35-year-old is considering a return to Spain. The past years have seen him held back by injuries although he did return with a better physique at the NBA restart. Unfortunately, his game has dipped. He played only 44 games, norming 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Nurse, who also got a multi-year extension recently, has his work cut out as he explores options for the Raptors. It will be an interesting offseason for Toronto who could bring in new faces via the free-agent market or through a trade.