Raptors expected to undergo roster changes; Rockets in play?

NBA buzz suggests that the Raptors will undergo some roster changes this offseason, perhaps some major ones, as relayed by Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.Gary Trent Jr and Fred VanVleet

The Raptors are currently in the midst of a coaching search after firing Nick Nurse, and very well could make personnel changes to fit the new coach’s style and give themselves a little financial flexibility. There is also the possibility they could go all in on contending again, too.

As Pincus wrote, the Raptors explored several trades ahead of the February deadline, and the purpose of which may have been to gauge interest in the likes of forward OG Anunoby and guards Gary Trent Jr. and Fred VanVleet, who has a $22.8 million player option on his contract. VanVleet is widely expected to opt out.

The Raptors reportedly also spoke to the Nets about a potential Kevin Durant trade in February, shortly before Durant was dealt to the Suns. It is believed those discussions involved Toronto power forward Pascal Siakam.

At any rate, some reports have suggested that the only “untouchable” among the Raptors’ core is small forward Scottie Barnes, the 2022 Rookie of the Year. The biggest mystery, for the time being, is VanVleet.

“VanVleet may be able to get Jalen Brunson-level dollars ($26 million per season), but his best path to a playoff contender could be to opt in and extend,” Pincus wrote. “Under the incoming rules, VanVleet can sign an extension in July as part of a trade with a starting salary for 2024-25 as high as $32 million. That would open the door to a longer list of teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns or Brooklyn Nets.”

One rival GM suggested to Hoops Wire that VanVleet could end up with the Rockets, pairing him with James Harden, should Harden decide to part ways with the 76ers and return to Houston this summer. That scenario would not be cheap for the Rockets, of course.

But word is, if Harden is really interested in a return, the Rockets would quickly move off their current rebuild under new coach Ime Udoka, and aim to surround Harden with veterans who could put the franchise in “contend-now” mode.

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