Raptors' Fred VanVleet Will Return for NBA Restart Despite Impending Free Agency

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2020

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet handles the ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet wants to return to the court when the NBA comes back, but the pending free agent understands others in his position who might want to stay out. 

ESPN's Rachel Nichols asked VanVleet on The Jump Wednesday whether soon-to-be free agents would be more reluctant to return because of the risk of injury. 

"Absolutely. I think they should be," the 26-year-old said. "I think everybody has to do what's best for them."

He noted Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant both suffered devastating injuries last year in the NBA finals before hitting free agency last summer. Though both signed new contracts, they haven't played during the 2019-20 season.

Some less-established players could have a harder time getting a new deal after an injury.

"You don't want to think about things like that but also you have to be mindful of every risk that you're taking when you go out there," VanVleet said.

Of course, the former undrafted free agent clarified that he has every intention of returning to the court when the NBA season resumes.

"I haven't thought about it too much, I'm just itching to get back out there," he said Wednesday.

The NBA is in discussions to restart the 2019-20 season in late July. Though there has been debate about how many teams will come back—from playing regular-season games with all 30 teams to just going straight to the playoffs—the Raptors will be involved either way as the current No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

VanVleet signed a two-year, $18 million contract in 2018 but should be more in-demand this time around after helping Toronto win an NBA title in 2019. He is averaging a career-high 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game so far in 2019-20.