Toronto may have seen the last of Fred VanVleet in a Raptors uniform.
The 26-year-old Raptors guard is in his last year of a two-year, $18 million contract that he signed prior to the 2018-19 season. Toronto was expected to have another chance to run it back with VanVleet before the two parties got together to crunch the numbers and see if they could come to a deal. Now, the first part of that equation might be over.
"If we’re saying the timeline matters, “ VanVleet told reporters during a conference call Wednesday. “(If) we’re saying all these … things and you’re looking around the world at what’s going on with the virus itself, if our league is going to be a leader in terms of public health and public safety and player safety, (if) you gotta follow the guidelines of what the virus is speaking to you … the odds are probably against us in terms of that.”
But then again, money talks and the cancellation of the season would cost the NBA and its players millions of dollars.
That's not lost on VanVleet, who, if Anthony Davis resigns with the Lakers this year, could be the top unrestricted free agent on the market whenever the 2020 offseason begins.
"Yeah, I think about it. I’m human," VanVleet said. "I felt like I worked myself into a good position, I was having a helluva year and I was planning on having a great playoffs to cap that off.
“It sucks because guys work their whole lives for this moment. ... You think about not just myself, you think about a guy like (Pistons forward) Christian Wood, who ended up having a hell of a year toward the second half of the season and he’s a free agent this summer. So what does that mean for somebody like him? But I think that the league and the union will try to do a good job to make sure that the free agents this summer get a fair shake, and it’s fair negotiating."
If the NBA decides to drop the salary cap this offseason rather than stretching the losses over multiple years, VanVleet might be wise to consider taking a shorter deal so that he can return to free agency when the salary cap returns to normal.
“I just did a two-year (contract). Best-case scenario, no, I wouldn’t take a short-term deal," VanVleet said. "But obviously this is not a best-case scenario for anybody. I’ll just say I’m flexible. I’m open. I’ll listen. I think everybody knows what a best-case scenario looks like. We’ll start there and work our way down.”
Regardless of what happens, VanVleet — who is back in his hometown of Rockford, Ill., — doesn't seem too concerned about his contract.
“At the end of the day, I think people’s health and wellbeing and frame of mind is a lot more important than a couple million here or there," he said. "We’re all filthy rich compared to what we came from in the first place. So I don’t think anybody’s crying over it."