Toronto Raptors Exercise Team Options on Valanciunas and Ross
The Toronto Raptors exercised their fourth year team options on the contracts of Jonas Valanciunas and guard Terrence Ross.
Keeping the Core
By picking up the tab, the Raptors will be guaranteeing their salaries until the 2015-16 season. The financial terms of the contracts were not disclosed, as per team policy. This was a simple “bookkeeping” move by the Raptors, but it does ensure that they keep their current core for at least the next two seasons.
Valanciunas was the former number five pick of the 2011 NBA draft and was one of the key players for the Raptors playoff run last season, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The Lithuanian 7-footer amassed a total of 26 double doubles last season. He also led the Raptors in total rebounds (714) and offensive rebounds (226).
On the other hand, Ross emerged on the national scene after winning the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Ross has grown into a very productive swingman who averaged 10.9 points and 3.1 rebounds last season. Ross, picked 8th overall in 2012, finished 2014 strong by starting 62 out of the last 63 games and scoring a career high 51 points last January 25th against the Los Angeles Clippers. The 51-point explosion tied a franchise record set by Vince Carter.
The Raptors also re-signed guard Kyle Lowry to a 4-year extension during the off-season to essentially bring back the team that finished 48-34 in 2014 and won the Atlantic Division title for the second time in franchise history. The Raptors were the third seed in the Eastern Conference but lost to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, 4-3.
Ready for 2015 Free Agency
By having Valanciunas and Ross aboard in 2015-16, the Raptors now have a total of 10 players signed for that season with still over $20M left in salary cap to spend. This means that while they now have the core of Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Ross and Valanciunas on board, the Raptors can add a valuable championship piece in the 2015 offseason with still a lot of money to spend.
The 2015 free agents include Boston’s star point guard Rajon Rondo and big men like Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler and Al Jefferson. With already a lot of talented scorers, Toronto needs a quality big man to pair with Valanciunas so they can really contend for the NBA title.
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