Valanciunas Closer to Joining Raptors

Jonas Valanciunas has started negotiations on the release agreement with his team in Lithuania, sources said, an important step in the 2011 lottery pick finally being able to join the Raptors.

While it has been expected all along that Valanciunas would be in the NBA in 2012-13 after a final season in his native country, news of talks with Lietuvos Rytas are a comforting development for Toronto fans who missed having their center of the future in 2011-12.

The release agreement is part of the process before Valanciunas can pay the $2.4-million buyout to the team in Lithuania and sign in Toronto. The Raptors are allowed to pay $550,000 of that.

There is no timetable for Valanciunas to join the Raptors and end the uncertainty that started last June, when NBA teams became concerned about the absence of a buyout in his contract, creating the possibility he would have to play in Europe for multiple seasons. That never happened. Toronto took him fifth overall in an investment for the future and quickly, and thankfully, saw Valanciunas sign a new deal in Lithuania that allowed him to get out of the deal in the 2012 offseason.

One non-Toronto executive called Valanciunas “a future franchise center” before the 2011 draft. While not every team shared the belief that he would be a star, there was a strong belief the 7-foot, 240-pounder would have a long and successful NBA career and that the Raptors made a sound choice despite the wait.

“I have no doubt that is the right pick or was the right pick for us,” Bryan Colangelo, the president and general manager, told in March. “But it certainly wasn’t one that would gather instant gratification. There were other players on the board… that our fans and perhaps the media wanted us to take because they might come in and be an immediate-impact pick, if you will. But we made a long-term decision. We drafted a 19-year-old center prospect and despite the pressure of picking a so-called sexy pick or someone that might be a more-popular pick, we made the pick that we felt was the best decision, long term and short term, for the franchise because it fit right into this building process that we’re going through right now.”


  1. J says:

    There are only 3 players the Raptors drafted and played for the team for at least 3 years that were franchise players. Vince Carter, T-Mac, and Bosh. In the past 5 years Raptors have not improved and inch with their 1st round picks. I use to be a Toronto fan and apart of me still is and wish them the best success. I think the organization need to change player development personnel. Bring in Patrick Ewing to mold Jonas and help il’mago play defense and rebound. With that

  2. nbafan213 says:

    The Raptors have a lot of complimentary pieces, but they still need to come up with a solid offensive identity to go with Casey’s defense. Bayless is a great player but I see him more as a guy to play as a 6th/man type of scoring combo guard ala Harden, Ginobili, Terry, Crawford. His per 36 minutes show he’s more of a scorer than a true PG. Instead of trying to force that role on him, give him starter’s minutes in that role and he should flourish as a scorer.

    Calderon on the other hand is a pure distributor who they need to get the young players from playing iso-basketball. I say they keep Calderon at PG, draft the SG that falls to them either Jeremy Lamb or Brad Beal and move DeRozen to the SF position. Jonas is a starting C-caliber player right away. If you saw him in Europe, he likes the physical play, plus he’s very athletic and has some touch around the basket. He reminds me of a younger, more athletic and energetic Pekovic (although not as bulky). DeRozan -Jonas – Lamb- Bayless would be a very exciting 4 players to build around. Keep James Johnson, Calderon and Ed Davis. I’m still not sold on Bargnani. He’s a decent scoring PF but he’s allergic to rebounding. a Bargnani for Al Jefferson trade might be interesting.

  3. iLie says:

    I’m not saying he’s gonna fail in the NBA i’m just saying lets wait and see what happens

  4. iLie says:

    U guys do know that Europe League is different from the NBA right? Some of u are already getting hype over this guy. Yeah he’s good but u never seen him in action in the NBA yet. But he is really a great player and I hope he would make a definent fit to the roster.

  5. Da Bulls says:

    I moved back to Toronto from US and I have to say I have never sports fans so sedate in my life. Toronto is the most abysmal sports city on the planet! Should have stayed in Chicago DA BULLS! DA BEARS!!!

  6. Genaro says:

    The best center that raptors pick up is the human dinosaur look a like bosh!
    Jonas Valanciunas is another center flop like Bargnani.
    Just go get Gasol!

    Raptor Fan!

  7. hoofhearted says:

    What league do they play in ?

  8. Deividas says:

    Jonas Valanciunas going to be the one of the best in all lithuanian history of basketball player. He will score a lot if he will find his game, and i hope he will. Jonas is so much talented, that some people are jelous about that, but he’s from Lithuania and all Lithuania loves him, and everyone with him! Also, Linas Kleiza are good 2, Linas got more experience, and will help to Jonas, when he need any help. Thank you.

  9. DOWELL says:

    sign tracy mcgrady for veteran leadership!!!!!!!

  10. cyrlson says:

    raptors never learn about drafting a white dude. most of their draft flopped. i.e. araujo and bargnani

  11. wow says:

    big v will change this team if u havnt watch this kid play watch, demar work on that 3 point shot, andrea play like how u were at the beggining of the season,james needs to get a consistent shot n its time to trade jose n let bayless start get rid of kleiza,grey too hope we get a top 3 pik lastly get a good 3 for the team no euro’s plz lol

  12. xOliveRx says:

    Playoff team?? LoL I’m a real Raptors fan, it is good to finally have a real center but they’re in need of a SF and a PG. The upside of this team is that now they can focus on offence since this past season they were grooming the players for pure defence. If we can get into the top 5 draft position, I hope we draft Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. In my opinion the most NBA ready player in the draft and also a big defensive presence which the Raptors coach will love to have.

  13. Matt says:

    Great work by BC, Go RAPTORS!!!

  14. Barkley's Shiny Head says:

    I’m not a Raptors fan but I’m kinda excited for this. The Raptors could actually start building up to becoming a presence in the East. Al in all, if Jonas Valaciunas meshes well with Toronto and they start doing some serious winning, the NBA should get way more exciting.

  15. Big V says:

    Go BIG V!!!

  16. ko0kie says:

    can’t wait to see him play… but him alone cannot turn the raptors franchise around. they need other a good SF and a young PG who can slowly take over from calderon.

  17. vamos a la playa says:

    valanciunas – bargnani: great combo.
    … and the coach is a guy who already improved raptors defense (just look at the opponent’s points per possessione stat).

  18. Fefe (Nets) says:

    Jonas Valančiūnas is a great player. He’s also young so he has room to improve. Wish him luck in his NBA career.
    With him and a good lottery pick, the possibility of having a good Toronto Raptors team for the future is become reality.

  19. Fonzy says:

    Jonas will finally learn how to fish early in his career

  20. Will says:


  21. Raymond says:

    I love raptors and i wish that Jonas Valančiūnas will come to raptors team and play very good with lonas kleiza too they’re both lithuanian basketbolists and bes persons ever!!!!

  22. Vince says:

    I’m a Raptors fan from Vancouver since V.Carter days. I like the Raptors, they got a lot of versatile players, but at this point, I think Bayless should be a starter and have Calderon coming off the bench. It’s still hard to say who should start though because the Raptors have a lot of contracts that basically say ‘hey, we’re giving you the opportunity to make a name for yourselves on a low paying contract, if you don’t, it’s okay you’re an easy trade target.’

  23. Alex Aussie says:

    I’m (in my opinion) Australia’s biggest Raptors fan and I’m also a UCONN fan so I was pushing REAAAALLLY hard to draft Kemba Walker.

    I was pretty upset when we took Jonas instead, but after seeing him play in Europe and taking the Kemba-love out of the equation I could see this was a great pick.

  24. QuestionMark says:

    As long as Colangelo can get the right players over the summer in the draft, possible trades and FA, then I think Raptors have a good shot at the Playoffs, we have a good team, Jose Calderon is a terrific playmaker, Derozan has great potential and hopefully he can play better next season, if Bargnani can avoid injuries, he can average about 25 ppg, James Johnson is a good defender, he just needs to work on his offensive game, Amir Johnson is a great source of energy off the bench, Ed Davis is solid off the bench as well ( I would look to trade either Amir or Davis, both are good PFs but we can only give solid minutes to one) Jonas Valanciunas is looking great and hopefully he can be a force in the paint next season, in terms of scoring, rebounding and shot blocking, Bayless is a good backup PG, Kleiza is a good bench player. As of now I would look for a good 6th man SG to play behind Derozan in the the draft.

  25. deadmann1992 says:

    This team has a long way to go before they are a playoff team. Not one piece is going to fix this franchise. Maybe with a few good draft picks they could be a playoff team in the next 3 to 4 years. All you can do is hope raptor fans.

    • Brighton says:

      With all the young talent and the veteran leadership of Magloire and Calderon, Raptors could be the #8 seed in next year’s playoffs.

  26. deadmann1992 says:

    This team has a long way to go before they are even a good playoff team. get some good draft picks and maybe in 3 or 4 years they can make the playoffs.

  27. raptors!!! says:

    great now that we have a proper five thats not aron gray,AB startin to nplay like an allstar DD developing great we will stand a better chance haha n bc u r doin a great job , ive been a fan for yrs n i feel like this yr is our turning point playoffs here we come!!

  28. baller4life says:

    LEts Go RAPTORS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Ian says:

    Finally going to fill the biggest hole on the roster. Can’t wait. Still lots of other issues to address though.

  30. Raptor fan for life. says:

    I Live in Toronto and am a huge raptors fan!!


    I’m sure you wont read this but if you do, I would like to let you know you are doing a great job on the rebuilding process but we the fans are starting to get a little impatient with the players that are currently on the team.

    Derozan has been underachieving big time though he possess tremendous potential. Ed Davis has to grow up, he needs to get more physical and play the way he did the very last game against the nets. James johnson has been a bright spot and definetely deserves more playing time. We also need some veteran leadership on this team (Magloire has had a good impact but someone like fisher, dooling who would foster the growth of our rookies like Jonas/Alabi and the rookie this year)

    I might be an official part of your organization (yet, I hope to work for the raptors someday) but I do watch all the raptors game and possess a great understanding of our offense and defensive system of Dwayne Casey with regards to the zone.

    Good luck in the draft lottery, hopefully the number one pick falls towards us.

    Raptor fan for life!

  31. yes cmon big man so we can be a force in the east