We’ve known it was coming for months, but in a story first reported by NBA.com Tuesday evening, Jonas Valanciunas has started negotiations with his Lithuanian club team, Lietuvos Rytas, regarding his release from the team this off-season, obviously paving the way for him to officially join the Raptors in time for the 2012-2013 NBA season.
A crazy part of the whole buyout process that’s often lost in the scenario is that these guys are paying for their own releases. For example, Valanciunas’ Lietuvos buyout is for $2.4 million, but the Raptors are only allowed to contribute $550,000 of that total, leaving Valanciunas to pay the remaining $1.85 million to his soon to be former club.
Between now and his impending arrival in Toronto, Valanciunas is expected to take part in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Venezuela, scheduled for the week of July 2-8. Lithuania plays Nigeria and the host Venezuelans in Group B, and will play a maximum of five games over the week.
Should the Lithuanian team qualify for the London Games (and while there might be a couple of tough qualifying matchups, they very well should qualify), Valanciunas could get some Olympic floor time. Between youth teams and the national senior team, I’d like to know the last time Jonas actually had a summer off. Though it should be noted that since J.V. is just 20, he won’t be playing nearly as big a role on this Lithuanian team as he played at the Under 19 World Championship last year, where he took home tournament MVP honours.
We’ll have you covered here at RaptorBlog as anything Valanciunas-related develops over the off-season. For now, pretty much anything you want to know about the Lithuanian big man can probably be found somewhere in these pages.
Ironically, while we discuss Toronto’s 2011 lottery draft choice, the Raptors will find out where their 2012 lottery selection falls tonight in New York during the NBA’s Draft Lottery. I’ll be back with some post-lottery reaction later this evening and we should have a brand new lottery edition of RaptorBlog Radio for your listening pleasure sometime over the next few days.
Until then, let’s hope those balls bounce our way tonight…