The biggest storyline for the Toronto Raptors this offseason revolves around Fred VanVleet's future with the team.
Coming off of his fourth season with the Raptors, VanVleet will be an unrestricted free agent when free agency begins on Nov. 20. VanVleet has said before that he'd re-sign with the Raptors "in a perfect world" - the Raptors have also said re-signing him is a "big-time priority" - but he's one of the best free agents available this offseason.
Even with only a few teams having the cap space to sign him, VanVleet will have options depending on what he's looking for.
MORE: Free agent destinations for VanVleet | Evaluating VanVleet's strengths and weaknesses
Ahead of free agency, VanVleet went on JJ Redick's podcast, "The Old Man & The Three," to give some insight into what his priorities are in free agency.
"I'm trying to get paid, man. I'm not shy about that," VanVleet said.
"I don't have to tell people that I value winning. Look at my story, do your research, I've never been on a losing team in my entire life. That's what I'm about and that's just what it is. I've won a championship and now it's time to cash out. I'm 26, I feel like I'm - you know, I'm only four years in, but I feel like I'm on the verge of blossoming even more with more of a lead role and just taking more responsibility in my game.
"All of those things factor into it. But at the end of the day, it's not purely numbers, but the numbers do play a big part, and I just want to feel my value reciprocated from the other end. Teams can tell you they value you all they want to, but until they show you the numbers, then you know what that means. We'll see what that looks like.
"I'm not going to play hard to get and I'm not going to try to outsmart myself and stack teams against each other, but we'll see what the numbers look like when they come in, we'll try to make the best decision.
"I'm a pretty simple guy. It's not that difficult for me."
Episode 25 is live with @fredvanvleet. Really great interview. Here's Fred on what he's expecting this off-season. Lots more to come from this @jj_redick @talter pic.twitter.com/uhktFui3fY- TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree) November 11, 2020
Nobody should be surprised to hear that VanVleet is trying to get paid. Within four years, he's gone from not hearing his name called in the draft to being one of the better guards in the league, someone who continues to improve offensively and has proven to be one of the best defenders at his position. On the heels of the best season of his career, in which he averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game, this is his best opportunity yet to "cash out."
The question, of course, is whether or not VanVleet is going to get the money he's looking for from the Raptors or another team.
The Raptors have little-to-no cap space this offseason, but they can go over the cap to sign VanVleet because they have his Bird Rights. Where it gets tricky is that it's been well reported that the Raptors are one of many teams hoping to have max cap space next offseason when a number of players, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, could become free agents. If the Raptors do re-sign VanVleet this offseason, whatever he re-signs for will eat into that future cap space.
That's why it'll be fascinating to see how VanVleet's free agency plays out. As much interest as VanVleet and the Raptors might have on sticking together, there are a number of different directions it could go.
Click here to hear what else VanVleet had to say on Redick's podcast.
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