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Charlotte and Miami also will have enough space to make a run at VanVleet or another top free agent, but both are already pretty set at point guard. Phoenix could be a dark horse pursuer and should have nabbed VanVleet the last time he was a free agent.
VanVleet said in the wee hours, after the tough Game 7 loss to Boston that free agency had been on his mind all season, but that he could separate it from what he had to do on the court every night. “I’ll wait and see how free agency plays out, but at the end of the day, I’m not writing a check to myself, so I’ve just gotta wait and see what happens,” he said as to what comes next.
Ibaka, 31 later this month, had perhaps the best season of his long career and as maybe the best big man on the market (not counting Anthony Davis, who is expected to return to the Lakers) should generate a lot of interest. After a non-impactful start to his time as a Raptor, Ibaka has become a major on-court contributor and a beloved teammate. Given Gasol’s age, injury history and declining level of play, an Ibaka defection would either mean going small (with Siakam and OG Anunoby up front), or finding someone on the bargain bin with the mid-level exception. Anunoby’s rise this season puts him in line for a nice new deal, but that wouldn’t kick in until 2021-22.