Valanciunas on DeRozan-Kawhi trade: ‘You can’t blame anybody’

Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) and centre Jonas Valanciunas (17) walk off the court following their loss to the Utah Jazz following NBA basketball action in Toronto on Friday, January 26, 2018. (Frank Gunn/AP)

There’s been a lot of reaction from just about every corner of the basketball world since July 18 when Masai Ujiri orchestrated the stunning trade of DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.

One man who’s remained relatively quiet about the whole thing, however, has been DeRozan’s former teammate, Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas.

Speaking at an event that saw him open up a new child daycare centre in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, Valanciunas seemed calm about the trade, saying “you can’t blame anybody.” A sentiment that directly opposes the polarizing nature of the swap – and DeRozan’s hurt feelings, in particular.

Perhaps Valanciunas’s well-measured attitude comes from being a six-year NBA veteran, or maybe it’s because he’s been the subject of trade rumours in the past – even acknowledging the buzz with his off-hand Detroit comment – but it seems as if Valanciunas is emotionally equipped to handle the cold reality of the NBA.

In other Valanciunas news, Donatas Urbonas, the Lithuanian journalist who managed to catch up with the Raptors big man in Vilnius, is reporting he will be back in Toronto for pre-training camp workouts as new head coach Nick Nurse looks to get a head start on implementing some of his new ideas.

This means that Valanciunas will have to skip the FIBA World Cup qualifying games Lithuania is scheduled to play on Sept. 14 and 17.

Raptors training camp is set to officially begin on Sept. 25 in Burnaby, B.C.

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