This is mostly just a procedural note, but the Toronto Raptors announced Monday that they have signed undrafted free agent Fred VanVleet to a multi-year deal.
Raptors Republic broke news of the signing from Las Vegas Summer League on Tuesday. Official terms were not disclosed, but the deal contains a partial guarantee in the first year and means VanVleet will be in camp with the club. As we explained at the time, you shouldn’t read too much into the signing just yet:
If VanVleet looks like an odd fit as a 15th man for the Raptors, take a beat here. It’s July 11, and a lot can change between now and the beginning of the NBA season. Trades and free agency can change things quickly, and even if they don’t, the Raptors see VanVleet as an NBA talent, and there’s good reason to add a player like that to the organization’s talent base. The partial guarantee may help convince VanVleet to agree to being made a D-League affiliate player if he’s cut in camp (similar to what they did with four Summer Leaguer-to-D-League players last year), but there’s no assurance he’d even make it through waivers. That’s not their immediate thinking, nor is it VanVleet’s.
For now, the Raptors identified a player they really like and felt should have went drafted, and they signed him. Where, exactly, he fits won’t be clear until training camp, but the important part – landing a player who looks like an NBA piece and securing him to a flexible, team-friendly deal – is one of the safer bets you can make here in Vegas.
You can read more about the VanVleet signing and how he plans to attack the offseason here. From that piece:
As it stands, VanVleet looks like the fourth point guard, which would pencil him on the outside of the regular season roster. There’s a chance the Raptors could slip VanVleet through waivers and make him an affiliate player in the D-League, if he’s willing, but it’s not a certainty he’d go unclaimed, and neither team nor player are looking at the addition that way right now.
“To me, he’s just too good to be undrafted,” Tolzman says. “I wanted to bring him in as insurance, because I think he’s an NBA player and a lot can change in free agency and training camp. I wanted to get a guy that was, if injuries or whatever happen, this guy’s ready to go. And I think he’s proven that he looks like an NBA player.”
None of that is to say the Raptors have any changes in their immediate plans. They’re just being realistic about what can happen over the course of an offseason. That can be hard on the player side, but the NBA’s crazy July served as a well-timed reminder to VanVleet about the fluidity of situations.
“At first it was like ‘Ah, damn, they got three point guards already.’ Then, like, the next day, Rose was on the Knicks, KD was on the Warriors, Wade was on the Bulls, so it was like, anything can happen,” he says. “Things happen, players move around all the time. All I can do is control what I can control and make them make a tough decision. That’s what I’ve been focusing on, is just being the best me and putting the pressure on them to make a tough call.”
Expect a few more names to be added on similar deals ahead of training camp. E.J. Singler, Davion Berry, Drew Crawford, and maybe Yanick Moreira seem like possible candidates if they don’t opt for more substantial overseas offers, and the Raptors would be thrilled to have any of those names with Raptors 905 this season if they were amenable to it and cleared waivers.
As far as the 15th roster spot is concerned, I still think the Raptors would like to add a more experienced forward, but with only their bi-annual exception left to use above the minimum, it might be slim pickings.