After Jonas Valanciunas was a non-factor in another Raptors loss to the Cavaliers earlier this week, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun wrote that he was no longer convinced about the big man’s fit in Toronto. As talented as Valanciunas is, and as much promise as he is, the Raptors’ system runs through Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, meaning the club isn’t necessarily getting as much as it could out of Valanciunas.
Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca echoes this sentiment in a piece on Wednesday night, suggesting that Valanciunas’ development “has stalled some.” As Lewenberg observes, the Raptors have been playing some of their best ball lately without the young center playing a major role.
“I think a lot of it, and probably I’ll take the blame for it, is being in and out of the lineup because of the match-up situations,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said, per Lewenberg. “It doesn’t garner a lot of confidence and that probably has jerked him around a little bit. Every player goes through a situation where they’re not shooting the ball well, not scoring the way they’d like to. He’s not going to forget how to score, he’ll bounce back. At the same time, we’ve got to continue to try and win games, that’s our mission, our goal as he fights through it.”
According to Lewenberg, there’s no indication that the Raptors are exploring a potential trade involving Valanciunas, or even considering such a move at this point. The team won’t mortgage its future in an attempt for a short-term fix, and the former fifth overall pick is still just 24 years old and is under contract at a reasonable rate through at least 2018/19.
Still, Valanciunas’ age, potential, and contract would all make him a valuable trade chip as well, and if the Raptors like their current roster and believe they’re just one piece away from taking the next step and posing a serious challenge to the Cavaliers in the playoffs, it could make sense to explore a possible deal.
What do you think? Does it make sense for the Raptors to explore a possible Valanciunas trade to see if they could add a more compatible piece or two to their roster? Or should the team hang onto him, doing everything it can to continue his development and make him a long-term fit in Toronto? Jump into the comments section below to share your thoughts!