With the Detroit Pistons expected by many to focus on a full-scale rebuild as they continue to struggle this season, the latest rumors suggest that the team already has someone in mind for the coming free agency period this summer — Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet.
Citing a report from James Edwards III of The Athletic, Bleacher Report wrote on Tuesday that the Pistons are interested in signing VanVleet in order to address their backcourt weaknesses. The publication noted that Detroit management is in the process of deciding whether to kick off an extensive rebuilding process or whether to make their roster more competitive for next season. While VanVleet, who turns 26-years-old next month, fits the timeline of a typical rebuild, it was pointed out that he would “fit with the latter way of thinking” if the Pistons are hoping to field a strong roster in 2020-21.
As explained further by Bleacher Report, VanVleet is currently enjoying the best season of his four-year NBA career, teaming up with Kyle Lowry to give Toronto a solid backcourt duo and averaging 18 points, 3.9 rebounds, and seven assists per game. The outlet noted that the undrafted guard’s contributions as a scorer and playmaker have been instrumental in helping the Raptors move on from the 2018-19 season’s big trade acquisition, Kawhi Leonard, who signed with the Los Angeles Clippers last summer.
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Although VanVleet’s addition to the 2020-21 Pistons roster could theoretically make them a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, Bleacher Report also cautioned that this is contingent on the team’s star big men remaining healthy and/or in Detroit. In recent weeks, center Andre Drummond has been brought up in various trade rumors, including one suggesting the Atlanta Hawks are interested in his services. Additionally, Blake Griffin has struggled all season long with a sore knee and is now out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on Tuesday.
Regarding the Pistons’ suggested course of action after the 2019-20 season, Bleacher Report suggested that the team will need more than just signing VanVleet in the offseason in order to become a “relevant” contender, even if Griffin gets healthy and Drummond signs a new deal this summer.
While there are other teams aside from Detroit that might show interest in VanVleet once he becomes a free agent, his previous comments have suggested he plans to stay with the Raptors if given the chance. As quoted in an earlier article from Bleacher Report, he told Sportsnet in October that he would re-sign with Toronto “in a perfect world,” adding that he may have to consider a number of other things before making his final decision.