Fred VanVleet Rumors: Magic, Rockets Could Thwart Suns' Pursuit with Contract Offers

Julia StumbaughJune 9, 2023

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 12: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors looks on before the 2023 Play-In Tournament against the Chicago Bulls on April 12, 2023 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images

The salary cap might end up being the Phoenix Suns' greatest enemy in their battle to acquire Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet.

If VanVleet hits free agency, he is expected to receive offers from the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets and others with cap space who could outbid the Suns, Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer reported.

The Magic and Rockets are projected to have around $60 million in cap space this offseason. Phoenix is currently predicted to end up $3 million over the cap, per Sportsnaut.

VanVleet could become a free agent if he declines a player option with Toronto. The Suns have planned to pursue VanVleet since February, Fischer said.

VanVleet averaged 19.3 points, 7.2 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game in 2022-23. His shooting declined slightly from last season, but he remained one of Toronto's best passers.

Meanwhile, the Suns struggled last season during stretches of time spent without point guards Chris Paul and Cameron Payne. Monty Williams, now behind the helm of the Detroit Pistons, said in April that the Suns played best with "multiple ball handlers," per Dana Scott of the Arizona Republic.

VanVleet could be the exact kind of player Phoenix was looking for, which is not necessarily a point guard excelling at pick and rolls but rather someone "who can get the ball down on the floor off of a make and get us into something that's functional," as Williams said last season.

Under new coach Frank Vogel, the Suns will still need a player to fulfill that starting guard role with the team planning to waive Paul, per Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes.

VanVleet could make $22.8 million next year if he takes his player option in Toronto, but it is likely he could receive more elsewhere.

The Raptors reportedly discussed a four-year, $114 million extension with their starting guard last season, although VanVleet said no formal offer was made. He could be looking to get that extension somewhere else, potentially increasing his salary to around $30 million next season, according to Aaron Rose of Sports Illustrated.

It seems unlikely the Suns will be the team to give VanVleet that maximum contract.

With $115 million already committed to Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, Phoenix has limited salary cap space heading into next season. They've cleared some wiggle room by waiving Paul's $30.8 million contract, but the Suns will need to move more contracts out if they want to woo VanVleet away from other potential suitors.