Report: Grizzlies to re-sign Jonas Valanciunas to three-year, $45 million contract

Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Jonas Valanciunas declined his $17,617,976 player option with the Grizzlies.

Predictably, he’ll get a lower average salary with more total compensation.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Valanciunas is a capable starting center. He even averaged 20-11-2-2 in 19 games with Memphis after an in-season trade from the Raptors.

But I’m not convinced that production is sustainable over a larger sample. The NBA is also overstocked with solid centers. A $15 million annual salary is high for a middling/low-end starter. To justify this deal, Valanciunas will have to continue to play like he did late last season. And maybe defend better, especially against quicker opponents.

The 27-year-old Valanciunas will likely be a placeholder as Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke develop. It’s worth having a veteran big option, especially because Jackson should play plenty of power forward as he gets stronger.

This is just a lot of money for a player like that.

Barring other moves, Memphis is capped out but not too close to the luxury-tax line. This is a prime opportunity to frontload Valanciunas’ deal. Paying Valanciunas more now probably wouldn’t inhibit the Grizzlies’ flexibility this year but could open doors in future years. Of course, that’d require more real dollars sooner. So, ownership might not go for it.