Potential Lakers Target Fred VanVleet To Decline Player Option & Become Unrestricted Free Agent
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Even with the NBA Finals currently ongoing, fans have already begun to turn their attention toward free agency.

Although this year’s class isn’t very talented or deep, there are a couple of bigger names that will be worth watching. The biggest star on the market is Kyrie Irving, who will be an unrestricted free agent, though he’s largely projected to re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks. If Irving does decide to stay in Dallas, point guard-needy teams aren’t completely out of luck as there will be other options available.

One popular player that seems destined for a new team is Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors. VanVleet has been an integral part of the Raptors, but his tenure in Canada may be coming to an end as he’s reportedly opted out of the last year of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

In the first major domino of free agency, Toronto Raptors All-Star guard Fred VanVleet has declined his $22.8 million player option and will become an unrestricted free agent in July, sources told ESPN on Monday.

VanVleet hasn’t ruled out negotiating a new deal and a Raptors return, sources said, but he becomes one of the most prominent guards in the marketplace and an immediate target of teams with cap space and several contenders who’d welcome discussions on sign-and-trade scenarios with Toronto, sources said.

There were rumors around the trade deadline that VanVleet could be on the move, with the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly one of the teams that checked in with the Raptors about his availability. With the point guard seemingly available, teams could once again re-engage Toronto about acquiring him:

There were several contending teams who discussed VanVleet trade deadline deals with the Raptors and those conversations could be revisited again in free agency.

The Lakers don’t project to be a team with cap space as they’ve got decisions to make on their own free agents in Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell.

Russell, in particular, is an interesting case as it feels like Los Angeles is looking to move him in a sign-and-trade versus re-signing him to a new deal.

A Russell for VanVleet swap could technically work, though the Lakers have previously shown they are not interested in being hard-capped. If they were to make that swap then their spending power would be limited to $169 million for the upcoming season, which isn’t ideal considering how many other key players they need to pay.

The best path to get VanVleet, who is a client of Klutch Sports, to L.A. would have been for him to opt in to the final years of his contract and then the Lakers complete a trade with the Raptors to acquire him. They could have then signed him to an extension down the road.

Now a sign-and-trade would be the only option, which is still worth monitoring even if it’s unlikely.

Chris Paul would be coveted by both L.A. teams if waived by Suns

Another star point guard that could hit the market is Chris Paul. Reports surfaced that the Phoenix Suns were planning to waive Paul and if that happens then both Los Angeles teams would covet him.

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