With a few notable exceptions, the NBA is going smaller and league-wide traditional centres are struggling to carve out a major role. As the Toronto Raptors are learning, that reality is making it harder to find a new home for centre Jonas Valanciunas.
Trade talks surrounding Valanciunas have reportedly stalled, according to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News:
…the team has been unable to shed the final piece that would complete its restructuring: Valanciunas, and the three years and $50 million (including a final-year player option) he is owed.
“With him, there are still a lot of questions, and like a lot of big men — not just Jonas — you have to try to find their place in the way everyone is playing the game now,” one general manager told SN. “He is talented and he still is young. But he is pretty much the same player he was three years ago.
It’s no real secret that the Raptors have been looking to move Valanciunas in an attempt to free up both cap space and playing time for the Raptors young bigs, namely second-year centre Jakob Poeltl, who impressed in sporadic minutes during his rookie season and was a handful for opponents during the Raptors recent appearance in the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas.
The club was reportedly in trade talks with the Detroit Pistons for Andre Drummond, and the New Orleans Pelicans at February’s trade deadline.
Four months later, on draft night, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange reported that Valanciunas was being shopped heavily, to no avail. The Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and Atlanta Hawks have all been mentioned as prior potential trade partners who couldn’t come to terms with Toronto on the right deal for the 25-year-old.
Valanciunas was selected fifth overall in 2011 and is coming off one of his strongest campaigns, starting all 80 regular season games he appeared in, averaging 12 points and a career-best 9.5 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game.
He was removed from the starting lineup during the Raptors’ first-round playoff series versus the Milwaukee Bucks.