Potential high-end Fred VanVleet replacement likely off the market

The Toronto Raptors won’t necessarily be in a position of strength when they negotiate with point guard Fred VanVleet. The latest NBA rumors suggest that the point guard market around him won’t be super deep, with few players capable of replacing his production.

One of those players is Los Angeles Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell, a potential Raptors trade target at one time who was sent back to LA from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the deadline. Russell, a former All-Star, has now been traded four times since 2017.

Russell, who torched Toronto recently, may be willing to settle long-term in LA as he has found a team that needs his services, is willing to compensate him well and is eyeing a championship. As such, LA’s pursuit of Russell will have ripple effects that may not be huge for Masai Ujiri and the Raptors.

Jovan Buha of The Athletic suggested in a podcast appearance that the Lakers and Russell have “mutual” interest in getting a deal done that will keep him in Los Angeles long-term. If the Raptors want to spend big on someone who could replace VanVleet, they might have one less option on the table.

NBA Rumors: Toronto Raptors target D’Angelo Russell will not replace Fred VanVleet.

Russell is averaging 18.8 points and 5.9 assists per game. game while making over 41% of his 3-point attempts with the Lakers. After years of bouncing around the league, the one-time All-Star seems to have settled in nicely as a tertiary shooter on a Lakers team that’s broken up right now.

Russell coming off the market could make a VanVleet deal more likely. While the team’s first-round pick could easily be spent on a guard with enough athletic potential to come right in and make some noise, they won’t be anywhere near VanVleet in terms of making an immediate impact.

Russell’s next contract might not be too dissimilar to what VanVleet could end up getting. While VanVleet is the more skilled player, the fact that Russell is younger, bigger and has been much more efficient this season could drive the price up for Rob Pelinka.

The Raptors won’t be the only team looking at VanVleet, either.

The VanVleet negotiation will be one of the most important that Ujiri and Nurse have ever been involved in, as it will have long-term ramifications that will reverberate through this franchise for years. While VanVleet may be the #1 priority, the team could be a very good backup option.

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