Raptors Rumors: 3 Possible Replacements If Fred VanVleet Bolts Toronto

Will he or won't he? Toronto Raptors fans are anxious about whether the team's heart and soul, point guard Fred VanVleet will return on a new deal next season. He made the blatantly inevitable official yesterday when he declined his $22.8M player option for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent. 

Some reports are claiming that he will re-sign with the Raptors, but there are plenty of rumors out there of a number of teams ready to poach him in free agency.

So if Fred doesn't return, who are the possible replacements for him at point guard?

Here are three top contenders:

Tyus Jones 

The Raptors new coach, Darko Rajakovic, was introduced on Tuesday. He comes over from the Memphis Grizzlies where he was the lead assistant. Could he possibly help arrange to bring the league's best backup point guard over from Memphis with him? 

Jones' game (and body type) is very similar to VanVleet's. He averaged 10.3 points and 5.2 assists in 24 minutes this season, backing up Ja Morant. But Jones has shown that he's more than capable of being a quality starter. In 22 games this season starting in place of Morant, he averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.81 steals, and 41.5% from deep. 

D'Angelo Russell

When the Los Angeles Lakers first acquired Russell at the trade deadline (re-acquired, actually) both sides were saying that this reunion would be for good—an extension would be in the works for the unrestricted free agent. 

But things have changed a bit in LA since then, as others have taken priority for the Lakers to re-sign (Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura). D'Lo could be available, and he's shown the ability to lead teams in the past, in his last four seasons averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 assists and nearly 37% from three (39.6% this season). 

Scottie Barnes

This is the easiest, perhaps most obvious move for the Raptors to make. The 2022 Rookie of the Year is an elite passer, and at 6'9", would be thrilled to try to emulate the role of his self-professed hero, who he modeled his game after, Magic Johnson. Scottie averaged 4.8 assists in his sophomore season, without being the lead playmaker. Of course, Barnes still has a ways to go to be the "next Magic", but giving him the keys to the offense could speed up his development tremendously. 

Photo: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports