BASKETBALL — 31 May 2012

The fifth pick from the 2011 draft, Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas, has begun negotiating the terms of his release form his European team and is expected to be able to play in the NBA next season.

Valanciunas has a $2.4 million buyout in his current European team. The Toronto Raptors are only permitted to pay $550,000. Valanciunas doesn’t hide his desire to to play in the NBA and previously said he would pay whatever he had to in order to do so.

There is no timetable as of yet as to when we can expect Jonas Valanciunas to join the Toronto Raptors.

Valanciunas is listed at 7-foot, 240 lbs and projects as a true center rather than a stretch power forward. By adding him to the lineup, the Raptors would be able to allow Andrea Bargnani to move out of the middle to the four or even the three. They would still have Amir Johnson and Ed Davis to put in power forward.

The Toronto Raptors were awarded the eighth pick in the draft lottery. Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo feels the team will likely trade that pick in exchange for experience.

“Adding three young players is not the end of the world but it is not the ideal situation for our coaching staff,” he said. “We have the flexibility to explore all options and that’s something that we worked hard to get,” Colangelo said. “We’re one of the few teams that can do that.”



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