It’s done. The Toronto Raptors and center Jonas Valanciunas have formally agreed on a four-year extension worth $64 million that will kick in a year from now. Valanciunas will play out the final year of his NBA rookie contract this season.
President and General Manager Masai Ujiri once again showed his negotiating skills in achieving this compromise deal with his young center. It was widely believed that the 7-footer would hold out for a max contract extension starting out at an estimated $21 million next summer and with so many teams set to have significant salary cap space available, it’s possible he could have got it. By agreeing to the more modest $16 million average salary, Valanciunas eliminates the risk of injury or failure to develop this season and the Raptors get a modest discount on what could have been a bigger contract next summer.
Valanciunas wrote on his facebook page:
Today is a very important day for my family and I. Toronto has been my 2nd home since the start of my NBA career and my family could not be happier with the way we have been treated in this great city and country.
I couldn’t be more excited to commit to staying in Toronto for many more years to come, and I thank the Toronto Raptors for the opportunity to continue being part of something special. Ačiū labai!
Toronto Raptors fans are the best in the league and I can’t wait for the start of the season! In a meantime… Let’s go Toronto Blue Jays! :))
— Jonas Valanciunas (@JValanciunas) August 20, 2015
Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted out the contract details as a straight four-year deal with a player option for year four.
Just a clarification on Valanciunas terms: Straight 4 years, $64M. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 20, 2015
There is a 4th year option on Valanciunas deal, but “straight” in past tweet was in reference to $64M guaranteed and no bonus incentives.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 20, 2015
Ujiri talked about the deal on Sportnet590’s Prime Time Sports,
“Jonas we look at as a 7-foot basketball player that’s talented, he’s growing in terms of his learning abilities and what he can do,” Ujiri said. “We have to project, that’s our jobs and we have to preserve guys that have value. We have to preserve assets and Jonas is somebody who we feel is a part of our future.
“Negotiations are always tough. You are trying to sell something or you are trying to basically compromise. You have to come to a middle ground where you all agree.
“It looks like $16 million is a lot of money now and looks outrageous to be honest, but we studied what the percentages of what this deal would be compared to the cap and next year after it has gone up considerably and the following year it goes up a big amount again, then that’s where the value comes in.”
This year the NBA Salary Cap is $70 million, next year it rises to an estimated $89 million and the following year to about $108 million. Valanciunas’ deal is only 18 percent of the cap when his extension kicks in and it falls to under 15 percent of the cap in year two. That equates to $10.5 million as a percentage of the current salary cap and represents the typical salary of years’ past for a decent young NBA player coming off his rookie deal. This isn’t star level money. It would be tough to argue against the Raptors signing the deal.
The Raptors press release summarizes his time in Toronto.
In his three seasons with the Raptors, the 23-year-old Valanciunas has averaged 10.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 26.3 minutes in 223 career games, including 218 as a starter. He has shot .553 (936-1,694) from the field. In the postseason, he owns averages of 11.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in 11 contests, with a .575 (50-87) field goal percentage.
Valanciunas, 7-foot, 270 pounds, averaged a career-best 12.0 points, with team highs of 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, in 80 contests last season. He finished second in the NBA with a .572 (373-652) field goal percentage. He paced the Raptors in double-doubles (22), rebounds (693) and blocks (95). He posted averages of 11.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in four playoff outings.
As with any 23-year-old coming off his NBA rookie contract, the hope and expectations are that he’ll continue to improve.
photo credit Paul Saini Flymm.com