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Jonas Valanciunas says his ‘priority’ is staying with Grizzlies

Jonas Valanciunas, Grizzlies

Jonas Valanciunas was impressive for the Memphis Grizzlies over the past two months, and he’s making it clear he wants to return to the team next season:

Jonas Valanciunas was part of the trade that sent Marc Gasol to the Raptors in February. In 19 games for the Grizzlies, he averaged 19.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. At 26 years old, the seven-year veteran could be a part of the Grizzlies’ long-term future. He has a $17.6 million player option for 2019-20.

Valanciunas’ role with the Raptors diminished with the arrival of Kawhi Leonard and the emergence of Pascal Siakam. Valanciunas also dealt with various injuries earlier in the season, which is one reason why he was dealt.

Valanciunas never averaged more than 16 points in his six-plus seasons with the Raptors, and the opportunity to be a primary option on offense could be a reason for staying with Memphis.

When Valanciunas was drafted fifth overall by the Raptors back in 2011, he was initially thought to be the franchise’s next star. However, he never got out of the shadows of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. He was still able to hold his ground and became a decent player, but he didn’t live up to expectations.

Now, he again has the opportunity to prove what he can do to the rest of the league. He should have plenty of opportunities with a rebuilding Grizzlies team.