Raptors' Nick Nurse Will Be 'Pretty Surprised' If Fred VanVleet Doesn't Stay

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIISeptember 24, 2020

Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet (23) moves the ball up court against the Miami Heat during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is one of the top names slated to hit free agency this offseason. 

His current head coach, Nick Nurse, is expecting him to be a Raptor next season. 

Speaking to Sportsnet 590 The Fan's Tim and Sid show on Thursday, Nurse said he'd be "pretty surprised" if VanVleet doesn't return to a Toronto team that originally signed him after he went undrafted out of Wichita State in 2016. 

VanVleet took a noticeable leap in his fourth NBA season while starting a career-high 54 games. 

The guard averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 2020, each setting a new high mark for the Rockford, Illinois, native. Those numbers only got better in the postseason as VanVleet recorded 19.6 points, 6.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. 

Yet it was a much shorter playoff run for Toronto than the team would've liked. The defending champions were bounced in Game 7 of the second round to the Boston Celtics

Shortly after the Raptors season ended, team president Masai Ujiri made clear he expects to get a new contract with VanVleet settled as soon as possible. 

"Fred is a priority," Ujiri told reporters. "A big-time priority."

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VanVleet last signed a two-year, $18 million deal with Toronto in 2018. Given his recent play, a raise is certainly in order.

That may lead to some difficult decisions for Ujiri. 

Along with VanVleet, center Marc Gasol, power forward Serge Ibaka and small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are set to hit free agency. 

Ujiri said both Gasol and Ibaka will join VanVleet as offseason priorities. The next step is figuring how much money he can allocate to each.