May 30, 2012, 2:52 PM EDT
Next season it’s going to be like the Raptors got two lottery picks added to the roster. One is the pick they land in Wednesday night’s draft lottery (Toronto has a 3.5 percent chance of landing the top pick and Anthony Davis).
The other is last year’s No. 5 overall pick Jonas Valanciunas, who spent last season playing in Lithuania. He’s the big man of the future for the Raptors.
And he’s started steps to come play in the NBA next season, reports Scott Howard-Cooper at NBA.com.
Jonas Valanciunas has started negotiations on the release agreement with his team in Lithuania, sources said, an important step in the 2011 lottery pick finally being able to join the Raptors….
The release agreement is part of the process before Valanciunas can pay the $2.4-million buyout to the team in Lithuania and sign in Toronto. The Raptors are allowed to pay $550,000 of that.
Valanciunas could have been the steal of the last draft — he is a skilled big man who needs to develop, but when up against the USA at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships he dominated Team USA’s big men. For that tournament he averaged 23.0 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. That tournament is not the best place to judge talent, but it gives you an idea of what he can be.
Last season Dwane Casey got the Raptors playing solid defense for stretches and you could see the system building. They just need talent. They get Valanciunas, another pick and one free agent and suddenly they might have something north of the border.
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