One ex-Raptor and two current Raps have opted in for the 2013/14 season, tweets Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com. According to RealGM's transactions log, Charlie Villanueva, Linas Kleiza, and Aaron Gray all picked up their '13/14 player options on May 13th.
None of the decisions come as any surprise, given the production the three players provided on the court compared to the salaries they're now in line to earn next season. Villanueva had confirmed earlier in the season that he'd exercise his option, worth $8.58MM. In 69 games with the Pistons this season, Villanueva established career-lows in PPG (6.8), FG% (.377), and PER (14.0), among other categories.
The Raptors duo won't be quite as expensive as Villanueva, as Kleiza's option is worth $4.6MM, while Gray's is worth about $2.69MM. Gray appeared in 42 games for Toronto this season, starting 16 of them, and averaged 2.8 PPG and 3.2 RPG. Kleiza played in just 20 contests for the Raps, missing time with a knee injury and then not getting back into the lineup even when he was healthy.
While all three players are now set to become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2014, free agency could come earlier for Villanueva and Kleiza. The Pistons and Raptors both still have the amensty provision available, and Villanueva and Kleiza represent the top amnesty candidates for their respective clubs.
Despite the Knicks' early season success, one important question revolves around how Amare Stoudemire will integrate himself within the team's current chemistry once he is finally ready to return from injury. With that in mind, the answer to that question will have to be put on hold a little bit longer, as Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes that Stoudemire isn't quite ready to participate in games just yet. Coach Mike Woodson, who met with his forward earlier today, said that he'd like to see Amare go through more practice time and gave the impression that a return during the team's three-game road trip was unlikely. Here's the rest of what we've heard out of the Atlantic Division tonight:
JULY 27TH: The Raptors have officially re-signed Gray, according to a team release.
JULY 7TH: Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that Aaron Gray has agreed to a two-year deal with the Raptors. The six-year veteran started in 40 games for Toronto last season, averaging 3.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 16.6 MPG in a total of 49 games. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun tweeted that he expects Gray to receive the team's "room exception", which should be about $2.5MM annually.
With former lottery pick Jonas Valanciunas expected to join the team next season, retaining Gray appears to set Dwane Casey's rotation at the center spot. The former center out of Pittsburgh grabbed at least 7 rebounds in 21 games during limited minutes, and could readily take some pressure off of Valanciunas as he gets acclimated with the NBA game.
Gray's most notable games last year include an 11-point, 11-rebound effort in 23 minutes against Dwight Howard in a loss to the Magic and a 12-point, 12-rebound performance in 30 minutes during a win against the Pistons.