Fred VanVleet continues to bet on himself.
The Toronto Raptors guard was offered a four-year contract extension worth $114 million prior to the 2022-23 campaign, but he and the team “mutually decided to wait, with no deadline discussed,” according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.
That amount was the maximum the Raptors could offer VanVleet at the time, and he is still eligible to sign an extension up to that value until the end of this season, per TSN’s Josh Lewenberg. The 2019 NBA champion has a $22.8 million player option for the 2023-24 season but could instead decide to test the free-agent market this summer.
It’s been a difficult year for both VanVleet and the Raptors. The 28-year-old was an All-Star last season but has seen his numbers dip across the board in 2022-23. He’s still averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists per game, but he’s shooting an abysmal 37 percent from the field and a career-worst 32 percent from three-point range.
At 16-23, Toronto has taken a step backwards after a surprising fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference last season, and VanVleet thinks the state of the team is playing a role in his disappointing individual numbers.
“I think it’s a big drop-off from where I was, as far as an All-Star-calibre point guard, to where I am now but I think it’s pretty situational, too, in terms of where we are as a team and as an organization, trying to figure out what’s the best way to maximize the most out of this team,” VanVleet said this week on JJ Redick’s The Old Man & the Three podcast.
“And I got a lot of other responsibilities other than just scoring the ball. So I’m doing a lot, and the shooting has been up and it’s been down way more than I would like it to be, so I’m giving myself a little runway.”
If the Raptors can’t right the ship quickly, they could decide to be sellers at the Feb. 9 trade deadline. VanVleet is one of the team’s top trade assets if it elects to go down that road and the Raptors will need him to start shooting the ball better to boost his value and maximize a potential return.
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