Valanciunas returns to Raptors lineup amid trade rumours

Valanciunas returns to Raptors lineup amid trade rumours

Valanciunas returns to Raptors lineup amid trade rumours

Whether he can still reach the heights of peak Gasol, a player the Raptors had eyes on over the years according to intermittent reports, is of more debate.

On Thursday, the team made another big trade by dealing away big man Jonas Valanciunas and others to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marc Gasol, according to ESPN.

As Shams Charania of The Athletic reported and we relayed yesterday, the Charlotte Hornets have had "strong" talks with the Grizzlies on a potential Gasol trade.

For a fevered few minutes there on Thursday afternoon, it looked like the National Basketball Association trade deadline music would stop and Masai Ujiri would still be looking for a chair.

Gasol heads north of the border averaging 15.7 points with 8.6 rebounds per game. Valanciunas hadn't played December 12 due to thumb surgery and would have been redundant with the addition of Gasol. Gasol has two years left on the five-year, $113-million deal he signed with the Grizzlies in 2015.

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Much like Nick Nurse did with Valanciunas and Ibaka, he'll have the option of starting Gasol or Ibaka depending on the matchup; Gasol against bully ball centres like Joel Embiid and Ibaka against floor spacers like Brook Lopez. The team is also looking to trade veteran point guard Mike Conley and multiple teams are reportedly interested, including the Utah Jazz. Especially considering how much pressure they're under to go on a deep playoff run - something that could be vital if they want to convince Kawhi Leonard to stay.

One of the factors that seem to have made a Conley trade hard for Memphis is the speculation that he only wants to be traded to an Eastern Conference team.

The Clippers have acquired forward JaMychal Green and guard Garrett Temple from Memphis in exchange for guard Avery Bradley.

Valanciunas, who had missed the last 25 games for the Raptors, was scheduled to return to the lineup tonight against the Atlanta Hawks before the trade was announced. "My relationship with the Grizzlies might change, but my relationship with Memphis won't". MarShon Brooks finally was traded away January 3 along with Wayne Selden Jr.to Chicago.

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