NBA

Raptors free agent VanVleet: I won a championship, now it's time to cash out

By Sports Desk November 11, 2020

Toronto Raptors star Fred VanVleet has a simple objective heading into free agency, declaring "I'm trying to get paid, man."

VanVleet signed for the Raptors after going undrafted in 2016 but has developed into a key player over the past two seasons.

The former Wichita State guard came to the fore in the 2019 playoffs as he played a vital role off the bench in helping Toronto win their first NBA championship, defeating the Golden State Warriors in the Finals.

VanVleet carried that form into the 2019-20 regular season and started all 54 games he played, scoring 17.6 points in 35.7 minutes on the floor per match on average.

A further 11 games followed in the postseason - averaging 19.6 points and 6.9 assists - before the Raptors were beaten by the Boston Celtics in the second round.

That may yet prove to be VanVleet's last action as a Raptor, with the 26-year-old now openly looking for the best contract possible.

"I've never talked about it publicly, but I'll share it with you guys: I'm trying to get paid, man," VanVleet told JJ Redick's The Old Man and the Three podcast. "I'm not shy about that.

"I don't have to tell people that I value winning. Look at my story, do your research; I've never been on a losing team in my entire life. That's what I'm about.

"I won a championship and now it's time to cash out.

"I'm 26, I'm only four years in but I feel like I'm on the verge of blossoming even more with more of a lead role and taking more responsibility in my game.

"At the end of the day, it's not purely numbers but the numbers do play a big part. I just want to feel my value reciprocated from the other end.

"Teams can tell you they value you all they want to, but until they show you with numbers, then you know what that means.

"We'll see what that looks like. I'm not going to play hard to get, I'm not going to outsmart myself and stack teams against each other.

"We'll see what the numbers look like when they come in and try to make the best decision. I'm a pretty simple guy, so it's not that difficult for me."

VanVleet is going to be realistic, however, explaining: "I wasn't a lottery pick and I wasn't a guy who people thought was going to be the player that I am. I'm not a 'max' guy.

"Those factors that most top free agents do, I don't have any of those concepts in my mind. I don't have a number in my mind that's, 'I can't take anything less than this'.

"No, I'm going to look at all the offers on the table. I know what I feel like I'm worth and we'll see if their minds are in the same place as me. If not, we'll take the best deal that's on the table."

And money is not the sole factor in play.

"I do value certain things when it comes to picking between franchises that are offering the same numbers," he said. "That part will be easy.

"I don't have to down-credit anybody or boost anybody. We know what teams are what. That part will be easy."

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