Southwest Notes: Valanciunas, Spurs, Doncic, Miller

Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas is done for the season after suffering a grade II right ankle sprain during Sunday’s game against the Clippers, the team announced on Monday. While the veteran big man won’t suit up again, he made a strong first impression in Memphis after coming over in a February trade, averaging 19.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.6 BPG in his first 19 games (27.7 MPG) with the team.

Of course, as Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian notes, there’s no guarantee Valanciunas will be back with the Grizzlies next season. He has a player option for 2019/20, which means he could opt out and elect to sign elsewhere. Still, in an examination of the free agent market for centers, Herrington makes the case that that’s an unlikely scenario. A more probable outcome would involve Valanciunas opting into his $17.6MM salary for next season, or reaching a deal on a longer-term extension with Memphis.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • It has been a week and a half since the Spurs were said to be nearing a deal with Donatas Motiejunas, and Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets that visa issues are holding up an agreement (hat tip to Sportando). The Spurs have gotten involved to try to push the process along, per Urbonas. That’s an indication that San Antonio still wants to get Motiejunas on its roster before the end of the regular season.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford are two of the longest-tenured high-level executives in the NBA, in part due to their strong relationship with team ownership. As Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News details, with a new generation of the Holt family set to succeed their parents Julianna Hawn Holt and Peter M. Holt on the Spurs’ board of managers, Popovich and Buford are expecting a smooth transition. “We have full confidence in them,” Popovich said of siblings Peter J. Holt and Corrina Holt Richter. “They’re really intelligent, hard-working people who understand the organization. They’ve grown up with it.”
  • Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic has missed the team’s last two games with a right leg injury, but head coach Rick Carlisle remains hopeful that Doncic will get back on the court before the end of the season, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Pelicans swingman Darius Miller is dealing with a grade 1 left adductor strain, and isn’t a lock to return to the court this season. The team announced last Friday that Miller will be sidelined for a week or two.

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