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Report: Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic are potential suitors for Fred VanVleet in free agency

Fred VanVleet
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

If Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet hits free agency this offseason, it sounds like the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic will be teams to watch for him.

Shams Charania of The Athletic assessed the various rumors floating around the NBA and pointed out the interest in VanVleet, who has a player option for next season.

“The Suns and Magic have emerged as potential free-agent suitors for All-Star guard VanVleet, league sources say,” Charania wrote.

VanVleet, who turns 29 next month, has emerged from humble NBA circumstances to become a key part of the Raptors lineup. He was part of the franchise’s only NBA title in 2019.

After signing with the Raptors as an undrafted free agent in 2016, VanVleet bounced between the NBA and G League as a rookie. The following season, he came off the bench in 76 regular season games for the Raptors.

This season, VanVleet is averaging 18.2 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. His scoring is slightly down from that of last season, though he remains a key part of the team’s starting lineup.

VanVleet has played in 36 of the Raptors’ 44 games this season. He has dealt with back issues at times.

Despite that pain, VanVleet has shown just how effective he can be on the court. In consecutive games against the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks earlier this month, he scored 28 points in each contest and dished out a combined 19 assists.

Currently, VanVleet is coming off a strong road performance in a victory over the Knicks on Monday in which he dropped 33 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

In 2020, VanVleet signed a four-year deal with Toronto worth $85 million. This season, he’s making about $21.3 million and would make around $22.8 million in the 2023-24 campaign if he were to pick up his option.

Based on the numbers that he’s put up over the past few years, VanVleet could pursue an even more lucrative deal during the offseason.

The Raptors have generally had issues with keeping their top players, with the departures of Chris Bosh and Kawhi Leonard being a couple of examples.

Of course, VanVleet could choose to finish out his deal with the Raptors next season. A variety of different factors, besides the financial aspect, will presumably come into play when that decision is made.

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