Raptors Extend Big Man Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas isn’t going anywhere. After ongoing talks about a possible extension to remain with the Toronto Raptors, the big man has agreed to terms to stay in Canada.
Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas has agreed to a four-year, $64M extension, league sources tell Yahoo. Deal could escalate to $70M
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 20, 2015
Toronto had desired to extend Jonas Valanciunas all summer, but talks didn’t truly heat up until just recently. Per reports, the deal is worth $64 million over four years, with incentives potentially pushing the contract up to $70 million, overall.
It’s a large commitment to a player that hasn’t quite realized his full potential, although probably a wise one in a league where talented, fluid centers simply don’t grow on trees. Jonas Valanciunas certainly has flaws to his game, but the Raptors didn’t see a way they could allow the 23-year old to slip through their fingers.
With Jonas Valanciunas set to be a free agent in two years, the team clearly wanted to make sure they were set down low, and with this signing they won’t have to worry about the center position for several years. Ideally, Jonas Valanciunas will command even more money when he turns 27 and his new deal runs dry, and should that be the case, Toronto will likely happily hand him and even bigger contract.
Improvement will be key heading into the 2015-16 NBA season and beyond, as Jonas Valanciunas undoubtedly is a skilled offensive player when close to the basket, rebounds fairly well and can block shots. Most importantly, Jonas Valanciunas has thus far proven to be a very efficient player in the post, where he’s averaged well over 50% shooting from the floor in all three of his season in the league and also shoots extremely well for a big man from the charity stripe (never below 76%).
Jonas Valanciunas does have on main flaw, and that’s consistency. A big bodied-banger with the size, toughness and shot-blocking ability to be a game-changer on the defensive end, Valanciunas has yet to develop into a consistent performer on the defensive end. Offensively, Valanciunas’ touch can come and go, while he also can still get into foul trouble too easily.
Making strides on defense will be Jonas Valanciunas’ biggest obstacle, especially with fellow big man Amir Johnson no longer around to help mask his interior deficiencies. That also could work in Jonas Valanciunas’ favor, too, as it will force him to work on his weaknesses and improve as an interior defender – both in skill and in his ability to limit foul trouble.
On the surface, this is a great signing for the Raptors, as they already appear to be a top and still emerging team in the Eastern Conference. With Jonas Valanciunas locked up for the next four years, Toronto boasts a healthy starting lineup that consists star point guard Kyle Lowry and athletic swing men, DeMar DeRozan and DeMarre Carroll.
The Raptors aren’t about to be anyone’s pick to win it all this year or probably anytime soon, but they’ve been making positive move after positive move and could be inching closer to a deep playoff run. They’re still arguably a stud power forward from making that happen, but securing a young and talented center for the future is a promising step in the right direction, overall.
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