Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas Deep In Extension Talks

THURSDAY, 9:16am: The sides are still working, and while there has been some optimism they’ll strike a deal today, that remains to be seen, Grange tweets.

TUESDAY, 11:19am: The Raptors and Valanciunas are indeed close to deal, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, who suggests that it’s a distinct possibility a formal agreement will come this week. However, the timing remains a question mark, and it’s no guarantee the sides reach a deal this week, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link).

4:23pm: The deal isn’t done, but the Raptors and Valanciunas are in advanced discussions toward a four-year extension that would be worth more than $60MM, Stein adds (on Twitter).

4:20pm: Marc Stein of ESPN.com confirms that Valanciunas on his way to Toronto “to firm up” an extension with the Raptors (Twitter link). It remains unclear whether the sides have an agreement quite yet, however.

MONDAY, 3:53pm: Jonas Valanciunas has left the Lithuanian national team to return to Toronto, where the Raptors have an extension offer waiting for him, Lithuanian national team coach Jonas Kazlauskas said, as Donatas Urbonas of 24Sek.lt writes and as Kevin Rashidi of Canada.com translates and confirms (Twitter link). He’ll undergo a physical, but Kazlauskas indicated the center would sign the deal.

The Raptors have reportedly wanted extensions with both Valanciunas and fellow former lottery pick Terrence Ross in advance of this year’s November 2nd deadline. GM Masai Ujiri this past spring called Valanciunas “a huge part of our team” for the future, and while the development of the 7-footer seemed to plateau this past season, the Raptors apparently placed the blame for that on their assistant coaches.

An extension for Valanciunas would kick in for the 2016/17 season, when the salary cap is projected to hit $89MM. The Raptors are set to enter that season with only about $45.5MM on the books, though that doesn’t include any money for Valanciunas, Ross, or DeMar DeRozan, who can opt out next summer.

Nikola Vucevic, a center who struggles defensively, as Valanciunas does, but who had put up greater offensive numbers, signed a four-year, $48MM extension with the Magic last year. Still, the rising cap prompted me to project, when I examined the extension candidacy of Valanciunas last week, that the Raptors would give the Leon Rose client $13-14MM a year.

Do you think the Raptors and Valanciunas should wait until the extension deadline in the fall, when other deals could help set the market, or are they smart to try to wrap up a deal now? Leave a comment to let us know.

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