(DAVID COOPER / TORONTO STAR)
The Toronto Raptors are in a difficult situation. They have been around the mark for some years now in the Eastern Conference but have failed to get past the might of the Cleveland Cavaliers. In a move to become younger and more dynamic the team is trying to trade away center Jonas Valanciunas according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News.
It has been reported that the Raptors have had multiple leads with Valanciunas both in-season and recently in the off-season but have been unable to find the right suitor. The Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Pelicans showed interest during the season whilst the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers and Charlotte Hornets displayed interest in the off-season but nothing has eventuated yet.
The five year big man played in 80 games last season, averaging 12 points and a career high 9.5 rebounds as the Raptors were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. By selecting him no.5 in the 2011 draft the Raptors obviously had high hopes for the Lithuanian but these have since faded as the team tries to reboot for a charge at the top of the Eastern Conference.
His fit on the Raptors roster and gamestyle has not come to fruition. Defensively he has become a liability with his lack of speed being exploited by opposition teams in the pick & roll. Offensively he can provide some great scoring patches but with two guards in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan who prefer to slash to the rim instead of pass it limits Valanciunas’ touches. His big frame makes him a strong rebounder and solid screening option but that may not be enough to hide his deficiencies.
In the next three years he is owed $50 million so the team is also trying to shed some payroll in order to look after DeMar DeRozan in the future along with trying to lure a big free agent that could take them over the top. What team that would take on Valanciunas’ contract and more traditional playing style as a big man is a big question. It might be why the Raptors haven’t found a willing trade partner at the given price.
Should the Raptors find a trade partner then it will open the door for more minutes for promising second-year big men Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam to play alongside Serge Ibaka.