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Grizzlies’ Jonas Valanciunas will undergo MRI for ankle injury

Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas sustained a right ankle injury during Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, one that knocked him from the contest. He underwent X-rays which came back negative, which is an encouraging sign, but he’ll still undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury, per Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com:

Valanciunas played 21 minutes before his departure Sunday, racking up nine points and seven rebounds on 2-for-8 shooting. The performance marked just the second time since his arrival in Memphis that he failed to reach double figures in scoring.

The Grizzlies made the decision in February to move on from franchise cornerstone Marc Gasol, who they swapped to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a package that included Valanciunas, who was ready to return from injury for his previous franchise. Instead, he slotted right into the mix for Memphis and hasn’t looked back.

After just two contests coming off the bench, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff shifted Valanciunas into the starting five and allowed him to blossom, with the 7-footer seeing nearly a 10-minute increase from what he was averaging earlier this year with Toronto. Even with the stunted playing time Sunday, Valanciunas has averaged 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 54.5 percent overall across 19 contests with his new team.

Injuries have zapped Memphis of its playoff hopes in 2018-19, with rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. currently sidelined. With just five games remaining in the season, it’s entirely possible that the Grizzlies play it safe concerning Valanciunas and choose to focus on next year, when they should have a full season of their new weapon on the block.