“Sources have described a team where the veterans — VanVleet and Siakam especially — were deeply frustrated with the younger players on the roster and VanVleet let them know about it, something the younger set didn’t appreciate at all,” Grange wrote. “[Nick] Nurse wasn’t able to bridge the divide as key players kept getting hurt and open three after open three drew only iron.”
The Raptors took a massive step back in the 2022-23 season, failing to make the playoffs after earning the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference during the regular season. The team ended up losing in the play-in tournament to the No. 10-seeded Chicago Bulls.
Toronto had been a top-five seed in the East the previous season, but the team has already undergone wholesale changes this offseason.
First, Toronto parted ways with Nurse – the longtime coach who had led the team to an NBA title in the 2018-19 season.
Next, VanVleet reportedly agreed to a three-year, $130 million deal with the Houston Rockets in free agency, leaving the team without its star point guard. The loss of VanVleet will certainly hurt from a production standpoint, even though he didn’t shoot great in the 2022-23 season.
During the 2022-23 season, VanVleet averaged 19.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and a career-high 7.2 assists per game. However, he did struggle (by his standards) shooting the ball, especially from beyond the arc.
The one-time All-Star shot just 39.3 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from 3-point range in the 2022-23 season. His 3-point percentage was the worst of his NBA career.
VanVleet had been with Toronto since the 2016-17 season. He won an NBA title with the franchise and has had quite the improbable rise to NBA stardom after going undrafted out of Wichita State University.
Siakam still remains with the Raptors – for now – and it will be interesting to see how the team dynamic changes under new head coach Darko Rajaković.
Toronto could end up making more moves during the 2023-24 season, as Siakam is in the final year of his contract while forward O.G. Anunoby could opt out of his deal at the end of this season.
It’s possible if the team struggles to compete for a playoff spot again that it decides to move on from one or both of those players and rebuild the roster around former No. 4 overall pick Scottie Barnes.
Either way, Toronto is hoping for a much different result in the 2023-24 season than it had in the 2022-23 campaign.