As per the team’s official PR Twitter account, the Raptors have exercised their third-year team options on center Jonas Valanciunas and swingman Terrence Ross, essentially guaranteeing their contracts through 2014/15. Though the terms of the deal were not officially released, Valanciunas and Ross are expected to earn roughly $3.7MM and $2.8MM respectively during that season.
The 6’11 Valanciunas, who averaged 8.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.3 BPG, and shooting 55.7% from the field in 24 minutes per contest in 2012/13, is arguably primed for a breakout season after winning the MVP award of the Las Vegas Summer League this year and some strong public support given by head coach Dwane Casey back in July:
“(The offense) will change quite a bit because (Jonas) has developed into the type of player that we can go to on a consistent basis far more than we did last year…He’s done a good job this summer not only scoring out of the low post, but of reading defences, understanding when to pass, when to score, when to attack…He’s going to get his big portion of the offence run through him, around him, not only just to score out of the low post, but to quarterback” (Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun).
As for Ross, who averaged 6.4 PPG in 17.0 MPG last year, there should be ample opportunities to continue to develop and see floor time, as he eventually became a trusted crunch-time defender in coach Casey’s rotation midway through last season. Through 7 pre-season games, Ross has come off the bench and emerged as the team’s third leading scorer, averaging 12,0 PPG in 21.0 MPG. The next step, according to Casey, is consistency:
“(He’s shown) that he can score the basketball, he can defend, but his key thing, like I’ve always said, is consistency, doing it over a long period of time…Youth is part of that, understanding what it takes to be an NBA player each and every night. It’s a grind, it’s a marathon — not a sprint. It’s not what you did on the last play, it’s what you do on the next play. He’s got to learn.”
Both Ross and Valanciunas will be eligible for fourth-year team options in 2015/16, and considering how much the Raptors appear to be committed to their development, it probably wasn’t likely that the two would have made it past this year’s deadline without having their options picked up.