Fred VanVleet bet on himself and it paid off.
VanVleet agreed Saturday to a four-year, $85 million contract to remain with the Toronto Raptors, a person with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract remains unsigned. The fourth year of the contract is at VanVleet’s option.
VanVleet, the undrafted guard from Wichita State, has played a huge role in the Raptors’ recent successes, most importantly their run to the 2019 NBA championship. His scoring average has increased every season since his rookie campaign of 2016-17. He averaged 17.6 points per game this past season, a jump of 6.6 points from 2018-19.
Keeping VanVleet was of major importance to the Raptors, who have won at least 50 games in each of the last five seasons — by far the longest current streak in the NBA. Milwaukee has a two-year such streak, and the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers reached the 50-win mark last season.
It also fulfilled a VanVleet prophecy: He famously went undrafted four years ago, then passed on some low-money deals that he figured wouldn’t pan into much.
“I turned those down. I bet on myself,” VanVleet told friends and family on what would have been his draft night, a festive occasion that turned disappointing when the call from the NBA never came.
The Raptors brought him in on a summer-league deal, then a minimum deal, then gave him a two-year contract for $18 million two years later — and now gave him the full reward.
Kyle Lowry, the veteran point guard and longtime leader of the Raptors, has predicted that VanVleet will take over that role one day. The deal agreed to on Saturday only cements that sort of thinking.
“He’s going to be rewarded,” Lowry said after the Raptors were eliminated with a Game 7 loss to Boston in this past season’s Eastern Conference semifinals. “To me, that means the world that he can take care of his family and take care of his family at a high level.”
Well-traveled Ariza on the move again
Trevor Ariza was traded for the third time this week, going to Oklahoma City from Detroit along with Dallas’s Justin Jackson in a three-team deal.
Also in the deal, the Mavericks sent Delon Wright to the Pistons for James Johnson, a person with knowledge of the details said.
In addition to Ariza and Jackson, Oklahoma City will get draft compensation.
Ariza was sent from Portland to Houston two days before the draft, then shipped to the Pistons on draft night Wednesday. The 35-year-old has already played for 10 teams.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been announced. It was first reported by the New York Times.
The Mavericks added Johnson to provide some toughness around young stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
Point guard Trey Burke, who agreed to a three-year, $10 million contract, emerged late last season as one of Doncic’s backups, making Wright more expendable.
Wright is the only player in the trade not on an expiring contract, with two years remaining on the three-year deal that was part of the sign-and-trade sending him to Dallas from Memphis last offseason.
Johnson’s expiring contract was another attraction for the Mavericks, who don’t have the salary cap space for a big move in free agency this year but should be in position for one next summer.
Rondo agrees with Atlanta
Guard Rajon Rondo took to Instagram to post what appeared to be a farewell message to the Lakers, after he helped them win this past season’s NBA title. He thanked the team’s front office and coach Frank Vogel, among others.
He ended the post with “Now, what’s next...”
The answer came quickly. Rondo agreed to a two-year deal with the Hawks, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told AP.
Rondo became the latest addition in a busy two days of movement for Atlanta. The Hawks also agreed with guard Kris Dunn on a two-year contract worth $10 million, a second person told AP. The Hawks agreed Friday with Danilo Gallinari on a three-year contract.
Bradley heading to Miami
The Heat agreed to a two-year deal starting at $5.9 million for this season with top defensive guard Avery Bradley, agent Charles Briscoe said. The second year is at the team’s option.
Bradley has averaged 11.8 points in his 10-year career. He spent last season with the Lakers, averaging 8.6 points in 49 games, but did not accompany them to the NBA restart bubble at Walt Disney World.
Moe Harkless, who was briefly — on paper, anyway — a member of the Heat in July 2019 before getting moved as part of the trade that brought Jimmy Butler to Miami, is with the Heat for real after agreeing to a $3.6 million contract, a person with knowledge told AP. Harkless averaged 5.6 points in 62 games last season with the Clippers and Knicks.
Anthony coming back for more
Carmelo Anthony is coming back for an 18th season, agreeing on a one-year deal to remain with the Trail Blazers, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed.
Anthony started all 58 of his appearances last season, averaging 15.4 points.
Anthony is currently 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 26,446 points. That’s only 50 points behind No. 14 Tim Duncan, 220 points behind No. 13 Dominique Wilkins, 264 points behind No. 12 Oscar Robertson, and 500 back of No. 11 Hakeem Olajuwon.
Crowder, Suns reach deal
Forward Jae Crowder, a big part of Miami’s run last season to the NBA Finals, agreed on a three-year contract that will be worth nearly $30 million to join the Phoenix Suns, according to a person familiar with those negotiations. Crowder became a starter last season and averaged 12.0 points in the playoffs … Priority Sports announced that Bobby Portis, who averaged 10.1 points last season for New York, agreed to a two-year, $7.5 million deal with the Bucks. Also, a person with knowledge of the move told AP that Milwaukee and former Magic guard D.J. Augustin agreed to a three-year contract that ESPN reported was worth $21 million … Kentavious Caldwell-Pope agreed to a three-year, $40 million deal to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent, Rich Paul, told ESPN … Dwight Howard became the first announced free agent signing, completing his one-year, $2.6 million deal with the 76ers. Players on certain kinds of contracts, like the veteran minimum one he agreed to Friday night, did not have to wait for the traditional signing period to begin Sunday … Michael Carter-Williams is returning to the Magic on a two-year contract, a person with knowledge of the matter told AP. Carter-Williams averaged 7.2 points in 45 games off Orlando’s bench last season … Free agent center Nerlens Noel and point guard Elfrid Payton each agreed to one-year deals worth $5 million with the Knicks, their agents told ESPN.