Fred VanVleet, one of the most coveted players in free agency this year, is remaining a Toronto Raptor.
A source close to the team confirmed a report on Saturday that the Raptors had re-signed the 26-year-old to a four-year, $85-million US deal, keeping one of the best backcourts in the league intact.
“Mr. Bet On Yourself” went undrafted in 2016 and so signed with Toronto for summer league. He went from being a standout with Toronto’s G League affiliate Raptors 905 to being a key cog in Toronto’s thrilling 2019 championship run.
The image of VanVleet lying on the floor in Toronto’s Game 4 win of the Finals at Golden State, his front tooth chipped and blood running down his cheek, will be one of the most memorable of the thrilling run.
Last season, he started alongside Kyle Lowry and averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 assists while shooting 39 per cent from three on nearly seven attempts a game.
Top off-season task complete
He’s a workhorse on defence, leading the NBA in deflections. He was fourth in steals.
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VanVleet had Raptors fans sweating when he recently said on the J.J. Redick podcast: “I’ve never said it publicly, but I’m not shy about that, I’m trying to get paid man. I’ve won a championship, now it’s time to cash out. I just want to feel my value reciprocated on the other side.”
The Raptors had repeatedly said securing VanVleet was their biggest off-season task, and they’d been quietly confident they’d be successful.
Toronto will start its season, which tips off on Dec. 22, south of the border, playing games in Tampa, Fla. due to COVID-19 border restrictions.
Training camps open Dec. 1.
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In other free-agent moves Saturday:
- The Charlotte Hornets have wanted Gordon Hayward for years. On Saturday, they finally landed him, according to Priority Sports, the agency that represents the veteran forward. Hayward, 30, will reportedly sign a four-year contract worth $120 million.
- The Atlanta Hawks added guard Kris Dunn on a two-year contract worth $10 million, a person with knowledge of the move told The Associated Press. That move came after Atlanta also landed Danilo Gallinari on Friday to a three-year contract. Later Saturday, guard Rajon Rondo, who helped the Los Angeles Lakers win the title this year, also signed with the Hawks, reportedly agreeing to a two-year deal.
- Miami agreed to a two-year deal starting at $5.9 million with top defensive guard Avery Bradley, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, agent Charles Briscoe said. Bradley has averaged 11.8 points in his career. The second year of that deal is at the Heat option.
- Forward Jae Crowder, a big part of Miami’s run last season to the NBA Finals, agreed on a three-year contract that will be worth nearly $30 million to join the Phoenix Suns, according to a person familiar with those negotiations. Crowder, 30, became a starter last season for the Heat and averaged 12.0 points in Miami’s playoff run.
- Dwight Howard, 34, became the first announced free-agent signing of this off-season, completing his one-year, $2.6 million deal. He signed Saturday; players on certain kinds of contracts, like the veteran minimum one he agreed to Friday night, did not have to wait for the traditional signing period to begin Sunday.
- Carmelo Anthony, 36, is coming back for an 18th season, agreeing Saturday night on a one-year deal to remain with the Trail Blazers, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to AP. Portland gave Anthony an opportunity to extend his career last season and he rewarded the Blazers by starting all 58 of his appearances and averaging 15.4 points.
- Tristan Thompson agreed on a two-year, $19 million contract to join the Celtics — ending his nine-year stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. Thompson, 29, averaged 9.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in his nine seasons, a stint that obviously included playing a key part of helping Cleveland win its lone NBA championship in 2016. He leaves as the Cavaliers’ No. 3 career rebounder and played in 447 consecutive games from 2012 through 2017.