Jonas Valanciunas to decline $17.6 million option, become NBA free agent

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas will reportedly decline his $17.6 million player option for the 2019-20 season and become a free agent.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news on Thursday, noting Valanciunas’ “primary intention will be to negotiate a new deal with Memphis.”

Playing for both the Toronto Raptors and Grizzlies last year, Valanciunas averaged 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, appearing in 49 games.

However, the center’s production jumped significantly after he was traded from Toronto to Memphis. With the Grizzlies, he averaged 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game — well above his career averages in all categories.

Clearly, the way Memphis utilized Valanciunas fits his game to a T. Now it’s going to be interesting to see if he garners a significant pay raise on what he likely hopes is a long-term deal.