The 27-year-old Venezuelan point guard was acquired by the Raptors from the Kings as part of a Dec. 2013 trade that sent Rudy Gay to Sacramento. One of the better point guards on this summer's free agent market, Vasquez averaged 9.6 points and 4.1 assists for the Kings and Raptors in 2013-14, while posting a 14.1 Player Efficiency Rating. Vasquez's +8.5 net rating was one of the highest marks on Toronto's roster.
Following the trade, Vasquez backed up Kyle Lowry, who agreed to re-sign with the Raptors on a four-year, $48 million contract earlier this week. The two returners will be joined by scoring guard Lou Williams, who was acquired in a trade with Atlanta.
SI.com's Rob Mahoney ranked Vasquez at No. 7 on his list of the best ball-handlers in this year's free agency class, citing his quality court vision, creative scoring game and high energy level.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri was committed to keeping together the core of a roster that made a surprising push into the East's No. 3 seed last season, and his agreements with Lowry, Patrick Patterson ($18 million over three years) and now Vasquez help deliver on that goal. Likewise, Vasquez stated on multiple occasions that he hoped to re-sign in Toronto.
"I truly love Toronto," Vasquez wrote on Twitter Wednesday night. "Happy to be back with the best fans of the NBA -- Toronto Raptors fans."
Paying a back-up point guard $6.5 million is a luxury most teams can't afford. The Raptors aren't "most teams," though, thanks to Ujiri's skillful cap management and an ownership group that is willing to spend. While the Heat try to keep the "Big Three" together and the Pacers mull the future of Lance Stephenson, the Raptors are betting that bringing everyone back will allow them to keep their toehold near the top of the East standings. They are in position to pursue such a course because Lowry's new deal is their only eight-figure contract and because the bulk of their rotation is made up of veterans on flexible, affordable deals and younger players on rookie contracts. Shipping out Andrea Bargnani and Gay has allowed Ujiri to keep everyone happy.
Vasquez is probably closer to a $5 million per year player than a $7 million per year player, given his lack of starting experience and questionable defensive abilities, but the short length of his contract makes this a fair deal for team and player. The higher per-year salary can likely be explained by the Raptors' desire to sign Vasquez before the free agency moratorium ended, as he might have received an offer sheet that stretched to three or four years. As is, Toronto gets a quality player to plug behind Lowry -- one capable of stepping up as a starter in the event of an injury -- without giving him the type of future dollars that would make him difficult to move.
Ujiri will surely find takers if he decides to flip Vasquez in the near future; in the meantime, Toronto will enjoy one of the East's deepest backcourts.