NBA Draft night didn’t go exactly as Wichita State’s Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet wanted. By the end, however, both found an NBA home, according to reports.
Baker agreed to a partially guaranteed one-year deal with the New York Knicks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.com. He will play for the Knicks summer league team in Orlando. The New York Daily News reported that those deals are usually equivalent to an invitation to training camp in the fall, where a player will compete for a roster spot.
VanVleet, according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, will play for Toronto’s summer league team in Las Vegas. His agreement with the Raptors may also include an invitation to training camp in the fall.
He told the Rockford (Ill.) Register Star that two teams offered to draft him in the second round, if he would play in the NBA Development League for two years. That option — “slaving away for $20,000” —did not appeal to VanVleet, he told Matt Trowbridge of the Register Star.
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“Everyone wants to get drafted, but in the end it’s about the money,” VanVleet told the crowd at The District in Rockford, according to the Register Star. “I am already getting offers for $50,000, $100,000 just to come to training camp to try out. I’ve been an underdog my whole life. It isn’t going to stop now. I am excited for the future and getting back to work.”
Baker joins a team in transition after Wednesday’s trade that brought Derrick Rose to New York from Chicago. The Knicks gave up guards Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon and may see Baker as an experienced player who can fill a role off the bench. The Knicks are coached by Jeff Hornacek, hired in June.
Most second-round draft choices do not receive guaranteed contracts. The Knicks did not have a pick in Thursday’s draft.
Baker could join former Shocker Cleanthony Early, who is a restricted free agent after spending the past two seasons with the Knicks. The Knicks can offer Early a contract to keep him.
The Knicks will play five games in the Orlando summer league, starting July 2.
VanVleet will get at least three games in Las Vegas, starting July 8, to show the Raptors, and other teams, what he can do. If he doesn’t make an NBA roster, he can choose between playing overseas or a spot in the NBA Development League.
Toronto picked two players with whom VanVleet is familiar with in the draft. It nabbed Utah center Jakob Poeltl with the No. 9 pick and New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam at No. 27. WSU played both teams the past two seasons. The Raptors, coming off an appearance in the Eastern Conference finals, are set at point guard with Kyle Lowery and also have Cory Joseph and Delon Wright (who also played at Utah).
Baker, a 6-foot-4 guard, worked out for 15 NBA teams since early May. He also competed in the NBA Combine. VanVleet, a 6-foot-1 point guard, worked out for 18 teams.