Fred VanVleet on DeMar DeRozan’s bitter exit from Raptors
The Toronto Raptors are the talk of the NBA world today after the franchise acquired Kawhi Leonard via a trade with the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs’ problem is now Toronto’s to worry about, as there have been rumors that the beset superstar forward has no plans of playing the final year of his contract in Toronto. In other words, he could be sitting out the entire 2018-19 season.
Leonard and veteran guard Danny Green were the prizes the Raptors got for trading away DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a future draft pick, but as warm as Raptors backup guard Fred VanVleet is in welcoming Leonard and Green, he simply just could not hide the tone of his frustration over Toronto’s decision to ship a pair of former teammates to San Antonio in his text to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.
“It’s sad to lose my guys. I have genuine love for both DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. It’s hard to comment on this without saying the wrong things. As a player, you always want to try to win with the team you have. I’m a big fan of Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, though. Hopefully all the noise is just noise and Kawhi is all in.”
Last season was filled with highs and lows for Toronto, and among the positives was the improvement of Fred VanVleet. From averaging only 2.9 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in 7.9 minutes per game in 2017-18, VanVleet saw his role expand, becoming a crucial piece of the Raptors’ second unit. In his second year in the league, he posted 8.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while enjoying 20.0 minutes of playing time per contest.
Part of the former Wichita State Shockers guard’s success was his chemistry with his teammates, including DeRozan and Poeltl, who was also part of the team’s group of backups. Losing the two would mean VanVleet has to adjust anew to new pieces.
Van Vleet maybe frustrated of Toronto’s latest front office maneuver, but he can’t say the team did not make him happy. He was signed by the Raptors to a two-year $18.1 million deal earlier this month.