Toronto Raptors Offer Long-Term Contract to Jonas Valanciunas


Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas is set to be a restricted free agent next summer, but it sounds like he might avoid that, as the two parties are reportedly on the verge of working out a long-term extension.

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Just when you thought the Toronto Raptors summer was over, another intriguing report surfaced yesterday. This time, the news surrounds a player who is currently on their roster, Jonas Valanciunas.

According to multiple reports, the Raptors big man had left the Lithuanian National Team to return to Toronto to work on finalizing a long-term extension with the Dinos.

Lithuanian basketball writer Jonas Miklovas first reported the news (Lithuanian article), while ESPN‘s Marc Stein would later confirm it.

We all knew that resigning JV was a top priority for the Raptors. But I’m sure like myself, many Raps’ fans feared that Enes Kanter‘s recently signed max contract would seriously inflate JV’s price tag.

I mean, if Kanter, a terrible defender, could convince two teams that he is worth a max contract, then who’s to say that JV couldn’t get a max deal on the open market? Especially with the salary cap increasing, it seemed inevitable.

Jan 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) talks to center Jonas Valanciunas (17) against the New Orleans Pelicans at Air Canada Centre. The Pelicans beat the Raptors 95-93. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Well, if the early reports are correct, the Raptors might actually extend Valanciunas to a non-max deal that is at a more than reasonable amount.

Four years, $60 million is a great deal for the Raptors. Even if we include an extra $5 million for miscellaneous costs like bonuses, the Raps still walk away winners in this deal. The team would lock up a player who is entering his prime and remain flexible for this upcoming summer, where players like DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Durant will become free agents.

As for JV’s contract, the Raptors could structure it in a number of ways. They could agree to an equal payment plan of roughly $16.25 million a year, or they could incrementally increase his contract annually, which would grow with the salary cap.

Either way, there are three keys to finalizing a deal with JV before October 31 that would work in the Raptors’ favour.

The first being flexibility. You’ve probably seen this word thrown a lot with the Raptors this summer, but it’s for good reason. Let’s say the Raptors decide to structure JV’s contract in a way where it incrementally increases each season, hypothetically, that would only tack on roughly an additional $2.75 to $3 million to their 2016 spending room, which would still leave them with ample amount of space to pursue an elite free agent.

Apr 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) looks to take a shot over Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk (41) in the first quarter at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The deal would also save the Raptors a decent chunk of change. Since Valanciunas is a player with six years or less experience in the NBA, he is eligible for a max contract that accounts for 25 percent of a team’s salary cap over a five-year period. With the cap set to explode, compare this reported $60 million deal to a max contract that could reach the levels of a five-year, $110+ million deal, and you can quickly figure out why this deal favours the Raptors.

Finally, if the deal is anywhere south of $70 million, it would only take up approximately 17 percent of the Raptors’ cap next season, and approximately 14 percent each year after. Of course, those numbers are very fluid because they’re not set in stone, but based off what’s been reported so far, these are fair approximations.

Bottom line here, if the extension with JV comes in below $70 million the Raptors have done a great job. Chalk it up to “Masai being Masai”, if you want, but being able to secure a young, developing big-man who’s about to enter his prime at a rate well below what he could get is great for any organization.

Next: 4 Must-Watch Games on the Raptors 2015-16 Schedule

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