All-Star guard Fred VanVleet joins the Rockets

Fred VanVleet is leaving Toronto for Houston.  (AP Photo/Nate Billings)
Fred VanVleet is leaving Toronto for Houston. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)

One-time NBA All-Star and 2019 champion Fred VanVleet has agreed to a three-year, $130 million contract with the Houston Rockets. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski,

The contract marked the first max deal of the NBA’s free agency period.

The Raptors moved quickly to replace Reload in their backcourt, agreeing to a two-year, $26 million contract with former Los Angeles Laker Dennis Schroder. Per Wojnarowski,

The 29-year-old VanVleet averaged 19.3 points (39/34/90 shooting splits), 7.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 36.7 minutes in 69 games for the Raptors last season. VanVleet declined a $22.8 million option to play in Toronto the following season, instead entering unrestricted free agency for the second time in his seven-year career.

One of the most accomplished undrafted players in league history, VanVleet graduated from Wichita State in 2016 and received an invitation to training camp in Toronto, where he earned a roster spot and began his career with the franchise’s G League affiliate. time spent. The 6-foot-1, 197-pound guard played 25 minutes off the bench in the Raptors’ run for their only championship in 2019, scoring 22 points in a Game 6 title win.

VanVleet started the 2019–20 campaign alongside six-time All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, and he led the Raptors to 53 wins and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. VanVleet earned a four-year, $85 million contract from Toronto in 2020 free agency, and his performance as a showrunner finally made the aging Lowry expendable in 2021. VanVleet earned his first All-Star bid a year later, when he averaged 40/38/87 on 19-4-6 shooting as the Bulldogs split on a top-10 defensive team.

The Raptors are running in the opposite direction. Despite the presence of VanVleet, two-time All-NBA forward Pascal Siakam and a host of versatile talents including Ozzie Anunobi and Scottie Barnes, they have missed the postseason twice in the past three years and lost in the first round of the 2022 playoffs. ,

When asked after a loss to the Chicago Bulls in the play-in tournament at the end of the season if Toronto’s decline would affect his free-agency decision, VanVleet told reporters, “I think we’ve built something special here.” . My whole NBA life has been here, so I think there’s some value and some weight to it. I think the relationship with management and coaching is in a very good place, and that hasn’t changed. I don’t necessarily think that kind of Want to go through another season. I think we can definitely be better than we were this year.”

Toronto fired head coach Nick Nurse a week later and replaced him with debutant Darko Rajakovic, who had spent the previous decade as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies.

According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, no member of the Raptors was safe from trade speculation last season, including VanVleet, who attracted interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Suns, among others, at the February deadline. It was Toronto ultimately gambled on their ability to retain VanVleet in free agency.

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