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Fred VanVleet leaving Raptors would be ‘pretty surprising,’ claims Nick Nurse

Fred VanVleet, Nick Nurse, Raptors

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse would be shocked if point guard Fred VanVleet isn’t back with the team next season.

VanVleet becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and he’s expected to be pursued by a bevy of teams on the open market.

However, Nurse doesn’t sound too concerned about VanVleet leaving the Raptors.

During the 2019-20 regular season, Fred VanVleet averaged 17.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game for the Raptors in 54 appearances. The Rockford, Illinois native shot 41.3 percent from the field, 39.0 percent from beyond the arc and 84.8 percent from the free-throw line.

In the 2020 playoffs at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, VanVleet put up 19.6 points, 4.4 boards and 6.9 assists in 11 games against the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics. Nick Nurse’s group, unfortunately, lost to the Celtics in the second round in seven games.

The New York Knicks reportedly have an interest in signing VanVleet whenever the 2020 free agency period begins. Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry is getting older and only has one year left on his deal, though, so most pundits fully expect Toronto to re-sign VanVleet since he’s an up-and-coming star and only going to get better over time.

Without superstar small forward Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors exceeded expectations by winning 53 games and securing the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference in 2019-20. However, Toronto missed Leonard against the Celtics, as swingman Pascal Siakam really struggled as the No. 1 option on offense.

Moving forward, if the Raptors want to get back to the Finals sans Leonard, VanVleet (assuming he comes back to Toronto) and Siakam have to be the faces of the team and produce like All-Stars every single night, especially in the playoffs.