Fred VanVleet declines player option; should Jazz pursue?

Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors, Rudy Gay, Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors, Rudy Gay, Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Fred VanVleet has been a talking point ahead of the NBA offseason. On Monday, VanVleet’s future entered headlines once again after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Raptors’ guard would be declining his $22.8 million player option, making him an unrestricted free agent in July.

With many teams expected to pursue the combo guard, should the Utah Jazz insert their name in the mix?

Fred VanVleet to become an Unrestricted Free Agent

Following the report from Woj on Monday afternoon, the buzz about VanVleet has understandably intensified as free agency is set to begin in less than a month.

VanVleet emerged as a reliable playmaker during Toronto’s championship run in 2019 and gradually improved after Kawhi Leonard’s departure. The Wichita State product is coming off a season with shooting splits of 39.3% from the floor and 34.2% from three-point range.

Despite the poor shooting numbers, VanVleet averaged 19.3 points, 7.2 assists, and 4.1 rebounds. Not only is the 6-foot guard difficult to defend, but he also presents a challenge on offense for opposing teams with his tough-nosed defense. The former All-Star averaged just under two steals per game at 1.8, showing just how impactful he can be on both ends of the floor.

Should the Jazz pursue VanVleet?

At 29 years old, VanVleet is still in the prime of his career. Utah will enter the offseason with plenty of cap space if Danny Ainge and the Jazz have the desire to make a big-time move.

While it may be intriguing to pair VanVleet with the likes of Lauri Markkanen and a lottery pick, it may be difficult to persuade the guard to sign on to another rebuilding situation. Although some could argue the future in Utah is brighter than Toronto, if VanVleet opted out of his player option to find himself on a contending team, it would beat that offer as a young and upcoming team, especially if a contender pursues the ball handler.

Nonetheless, while it may be a long shot to bring in one of the top players in free agency to Utah, it wouldn’t hurt to gauge VanVleet’s interest, especially with the Jazz’s need for a point guard on the roster.