2. Fred VanVleet
Keeping the theme going of championship-winning Raptors, how far the team goes to retain the services of Fred VanVleet will be indicative of where Ujiri thinks Toronto is headed.
Throwing a bag at VanVleet would tell the fanbase that this team is still in its championship window. Whilst it could potentially mean the end of the Kyle Lowry era in a year’s time (Lowry is a free agent after ’21-22), paying VanVleet would be a massive statement, a true vote of confidence in the current group.
Conversely, not paying VanVleet could mean one of two things; a complete overhaul is on the horizon, or, hopefully, a move for Giannis Antetokounmpo is taking form. Antetokounmpo will command a ginormous salary a year from now when he enters free agency, and with Lowry and OG Anunoby entering walk years next season, money could get tight around MLSE.
The complete overhaul is the darkest timeline. If the Raptors don’t pay VanVleet AND lose out on Antetokounmpo, a blow-up of the roster might become the logical thing to do.
The Eastern Conference is waking up out of its slumber, as the Raptors’ status as perennial top-three finishers will come under more fire than ever next season. Fred VanVleet wants to get paid, and the Raptors have the money to do it.
The only question that lingers is if that money would be better served stuffed in coffers until it needs to be converted to Euros for a certain Greek Freak.