Fred VanVleet looking to 'cash out' in upcoming free agency

Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet understands his value, and is looking forward to signing a lucrative deal when free agency officially begins on Nov. 20.

VanVleet is the top free agent point guard on the market, and coming off a career-year at the age of 26, he is expected to command a significant raise from the two-year, $16-million deal that he signed in 2018. The 2019 champion went on the Old Man and the Three podcast to discuss what he is looking for.

"I'm trying to get paid, man. I'm not shy about that," VanVleet told hosts J.J. Redick and Tommy Alter.

VanVleet acknowledged that he isn’t a maximum contract level player, and that he doesn’t necessarily need to have the ball in his hands at all times. However, it’s important that his paycheque reflects his value as a player, and that he is well aware of his worth on the open market. VanVleet is coming off a season where he averaged close to 18 points, seven assists, and two steals on one of the best teams in the league, and sees himself growing even better in the coming years.

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is looking for a massive contract when free agency begins. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is looking for a massive contract when free agency begins. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

"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 and that's just what it is. I've won a championship and now it's time to cash out. I'm 26, I'm only four years in, I feel like I'm on the verge of blossoming even more with more of a lead role and just taking more responsibility in my game.”

Related: Don’t take Fred VanVleet for granted in free agency

"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 the numbers, then you know what that means. We'll see what that looks like,” he said.

The Raptors have repeatedly said that VanVleet will be a priority for them this offseason, and VanVleet’s stated preference is to remain with the franchise that signed him in 2017. VanVleet grew from being a training camp invite, to winning the G-League championship as a rookie, to leading the second unit in 2018, to then winning the title in 2019 and becoming an established starter this past season.

Not only is VanVleet a vital piece for the most successful seasons in franchise history, but he is a shining example of what the Raptors have come to represent. He put in the work, made a name for himself, and should be paid accordingly. The Raptors must still balance their books to leave enough flexibility on the slim chance that Giannis Antetokounmpo joins them in 2021, but that is still possible so long as VanVleet’s deal settles in the $20-million per year range. Regardless of how the team changes in the coming years, VanVleet figures to be a core piece moving forward.

VanVleet is expected to draw interest from the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, and perhaps the Phoenix Suns or the Atlanta Hawks in the coming weeks. The Pistons and Knicks both have enough cap room to throw a maximum offer at VanVleet, although it remains to be seen if any franchise is that bullish on VanVleet’s potential.

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