Jonas Valanciunas signs two-year, $30M extension with Pelicans

Jonas Valanciunas in Philadelphia 76ers v New Orleans Pelicans
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Pelicans traded for a veteran center and, before he even played a game for them, signed him to a fairly lucrative contract extension.

They’ll hope it goes better with Jonas Valanciunas than Steven Adams.

After surrendering draft capital to dump Adams and Eric Bledsoe onto and get Valanciunas from the Grizzlies, New Orleans signed Valanciunas to an extension.

Andrew Lopez of ESPN:

This sounds like the largest extension Valanciunas could have signed while remaining eligible to be traded ($30,135,000)

That’s a reasonable amount to commit to 29-year-old Valanciunas, who was very good for Memphis last season. Valanciunas has once again shown he values financial security with an extension over chasing more money in free agency.

But it’s unclear how Valanciunas fits with Zion Williamson, who’s out with a foot injury. New Orleans’ franchise player, Williamson is an elite finisher with intriguing playmaking skills. Ideally, the Pelicans would prioritize spreading the floor around him (complicated considering Williamson also needs a defensive-crutch big beside him).

Valanciunas is a better floor spacer than Adams. But Valanciunas isn’t a prolific 3-point shooter. He’s not a defensive stopper, either.

A quality interior scorer, capable mid-range shooter, superb rebounder, helpful passer and reasonable defensive paint clogger, Valanciunas can help New Orleans, especially in the regular season. Merely making the playoffs is the most urgent goal because of the need to satisfy Williamson sooner than later.

But it’d be nice for the Pelicans if they had more understanding of Valanciunas’ ability to help Williamson as Williamson ascends further over the coming years.