The Toronto Raptors are still expected to keep Fred VanVleet this season. However, if he’s dealt, there could be several interesting landing spots for him. Here we will look at the four best trade destinations for Raptors star player Fred VanVleet as the deadline looms.

Fred VanVleet’s contract season with the Raptors has not gone as planned. The team has been struggling and has not been able to improve. That’s mainly brought on by dealing with injuries since the start of the season. Right now, it just seems like the team has lost its identity and has even gotten worse in recent weeks. At 13-18, Toronto is dead last in their division and sits at No. 10 in the East.

It is clear that changes need to be made, particularly in terms of rim protection and shooting. These have been areas of disappointment for the Raptors this season. The team’s shooting struggles, particularly from 3-point range, have also returned. In fact, they are currently ranked 27th in field goal percentage and 29th in 3-point percentage. The Raptors are at risk of missing the playoffs, which has been rare for them in the past decade. This just means it may be necessary for the franchise to make tough decisions and potentially move on from players who have given a lot to the team over the years. This includes VanVleet.

Despite being an All-Star last season, VanVleet is currently playing some of the worst basketball of his career. Because of this and the fact that he is a 29-year-old undersized point guard without exceptional athletic abilities, he may not be a highly sought-after trade asset.

Still, let’s discuss the four best trade destinations for Fred VanVleet as the trade deadline closes in.

1. Orlando Magic

If Fred VanVleet is traded, the Orlando Magic are currently the frontrunners to acquire him. The Magic have a talented group of young wings, but they could benefit from adding a skilled guard like VanVleet to their roster. The Magic have been on a winning streak lately, thanks in part to the strong play of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. However, their streak ended with a frustrating one-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Despite this setback, the Magic are expected to bounce back quickly.

Keep in mind that VanVleet is a proven offensive guard who was an All-Star last season. He could certainly help the Magic maintain their strong offensive performance. Remember that in the past seven games, the Magic have gone 6-1. In that stretch, they have ranked sixth in offensive rating (116.0). However, for the season as a whole, they are ranked near the bottom at 110.3. In the past three years, the Raptors have had a higher offensive rating when VanVleet has been on the court than the Magic’s season-long rating of 110.3. This data indicates that VanVleet could potentially help sustain the Magic’s offensive potency in the medium or even long term. There’s only one way to really find out, of course, and that’s to pull the trigger on a trade.

2. Miami Heat

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The Miami Heat have not been performing as well as expected this season. They currently carry a .500 record despite being projected to be among the Eastern Conference’s elite. However, unlike the Raptors, the Heat believe that they have the potential to go far with their current team. Do not forget that they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Heat may feel that they are just one major move away from contending again. Acquiring Fred VanVleet could be that move.

Despite some criticisms of VanVleet, he is still a productive player and would be an upgrade over the 36-year-old Kyle Lowry at this stage in their careers. VanVleet’s shooting ability also makes him a good fit alongside Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. Overall, this deal would likely improve the Heat as a team, as every team needs a reliable point guard. It would also be an interesting reunion for Lowry, who famously starred for the Raptors in their 2019 title run.

3. New Orleans Pelicans

The starting lineup for the New Orleans Pelicans is so scary it should sicken the defenses of other teams. The stars are obviously Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, but CJ McCollum has the potential to heat up and merit a double team as well. I mean, even Jonas Valanciunas has a lot to offer offensively.

Why not keep going all in for a deep playoff run this season? If someone like Fred VanVleet were added to this lineup, they would be practically impossible to defend. He might even help make the Pelicans the best offensive team in basketball this season when combined with the rest of this group. Too much? Okay, fine. But we have to admit that the potential payoff here is really sweet.

Keep in mind also that VanVleet is not exactly a defensive liability. Although his relatively short stature restricts him, he is a strong point-of-attack defender as long as he is not at a significant disadvantage in any matchup.

4. Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers’ anticipated victory total could drastically increase with a facilitator and shooter at the PG spot like Fred VanVleet. Right now, looking at the trade deadline landscape, one can even argue that the Lakers probably have no chance at all of striking a better deal than this one.

Yes, VanVleet is undoubtedly having a difficult season. However, if he moves to the Lakers, that should change. Since LeBron James and Anthony Davis (when he returns) would be getting the majority of the defense’s focus, we genuinely believe that VanVleet’s shooting percentages should revert to normal ranges.

Will a VanVleet insertion help the Lakers should become legitimate title contenders? Perhaps. At least on paper, he just complements this roster quite significantly well.