Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has denied a report that he turned down a four-year, $114 million contract extension before the season.
"I will never speak on my free agency or contract negotiations, especially conversations between me and management, so it certainly didn't come from me," VanVleet said Sunday. "But I was never made a formal offer."
The four-year, $114 million framework is the maximum the Raptors can offer VanVleet under the terms of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement. He is in the third season of a four-year, $85 million deal but has a player option for the 2023-24 campaign, meaning he could be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
VanVleet elaborated on his contract situation:
"It was a mutual decision by both sides that the smart thing to do would be to wait it out. There was no rush given that I can still sign the extension all the way throughout the end of the season. I also have a player option in my contract this summer. We can deal with that at the end of the season. Also, I'm on the books for next year. So take my word for it.
"I understand we're in the era of taking two sentences out of an article and making it a tweet, and then all of a sudden I get 300 messages last night that I turned down $114 million, which is not the case. It's a little misleading, and I'm disappointed that it's come out. I don't want it to be a distraction, and I'm not going to be speaking on any contract or any situation regarding my contract this year."
If a four-year, $114 million deal remains on the table, VanVleet should seriously consider taking it. The 28-year-old is in the midst of a subpar 2022-23 season, averaging 18.6 points, 6.2 assists and 4.1 rebounds while shooting just 37.7 percent. A version of VanVleet playing at the apex of his skill level probably could have eclipsed that $114 million number, but it's hard to envision any teams will knock down his door to offer $30-35 million a year at this rate.
The Raptors are also not playing impressive basketball at 17-23 and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. It's fair to wonder if the front office may consider tearing things down and pulling a VanVleet offer off the table if things keep trending in the wrong direction.