According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Jonas Valanciunas has made his decision about his $17.6 million player option for the 2019-2020 season...and it is somewhat surprising.
Sources: Memphis center Jonas Valanciunas plans to decline the $17.6M option on 2019-20 contract, clearing way to become a free agent. His primary intention will be to negotiate a new deal with Memphis, where he averaged 19.9 PPG and 10.7 RPG after February trade from Toronto.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 13, 2019
The reason this news is somewhat surprising is, despite his production for the Grizzlies, his market seems to be limited. He’s a bit of a dinosaur in terms of his game - he’s an excellent screen setter and rebounder, and scores the ball well in the paint and around the rim. But when it comes to the athleticism and versatility modern NBA rosters and organizations crave, he struggles. He’s a good rim protector, but not strong in defensive switchability. He’s a real threat in the pick and roll, but not in the pick and pop.
Jonas will almost certainly never again make more than $17.6 million in a year as an old school big man. He could be interested in a long-term deal with Memphis, but why not opt in and then talk extension like Zach Randolph did so long ago? A 3-year, $45 million deal for Jonas with that $17.6 million opt-in as the first year would mean about $13.5 million per the next two seasons, which lines up with the value of Jonas more than likely.
Now? If Jonas wants too much money, the Grizzlies can simply walk away and will have saved themselves a lot of cash potentially between the Jonas decision and whatever money they bring back in a Conley trade.
Valanciunas must be betting on a longer-term extension...and maybe Memphis is interested too.
Because Valanciunas was traded in February, both sides were restricted to only a two-year extension (if he opted-out). The restriction is based on the six-month rule from the time of the trade. Opting out gives both the flexibility on a longer commitment.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) June 13, 2019
The Grizzlies may indeed be intrigued by more years with Jonas. For the right price? That makes sense...
But time will tell on what that cost may wind up being.
Stick with GBB as the situation develops.