Jonas Valanciunas is finally ready to return to the lineup ton-
In another ultra-aggressive move by Masai Ujiri, the Raptors made a splash an hour before the deadline on Thursday, agreeing to a deal with the Grizzlies to acquire three-time All-Star Marc Gasol:
Toronto is planning to send Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Milles and a 2024 second-round pick to the the Grizzlies for Gasol, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
The deal ends weeks of noise regarding the Raptors and their willingness to improve the team, which already had the second-most wins in the NBA. Though it was not an Anthony Davis-level deal, Toronto managed to gain a substantial upgrade without giving up anything that’ll keep Raptors fans up at night.
What will the team look like with the Spaniard? Well, different. The 1-2 JV-Serge center combination will likely be replaced with Gasol as a permanent starter and either Serge Ibaka or Pascal Siakam on the bench.
Of course, the on-the-court offense will be very different as well. Gasol’s game is headlined by his passing ability, perhaps one of the best for a seven-footer ever. This will give the Raptors a very different look, as not only will Gasol be able to pick-and-pop as a secondary scoring option, but help others get going a ton:
Marc Gasol passes 65.7 times per game –– 3rd-most in the league behind Ben Simmons and Nikola Jokic. Going to be a great facilitator in Nick Nurse's offense. Now, he has more shooters, another versatile guy in Siakam to work with, and a badass like Kawhi. I like this for Toronto
— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) February 7, 2019
This would be incomplete without an ode to JV. Jonas was the current squad’s longest-tenured player. Every Raps fan will remember the 2011 draft where the Raptors picked some random big with a hard name to pronounce who wouldn’t even be in the NBA for a good chunk of time. Fast forward eight years, and he’s a core member of the greatest era in Raptors history. It was weird to see DeMar in a San Antonio uniform, but at least we had the offseason to adjust to it. Imagine JV in Memphis blue. Wild.
Delon Wright was another incredible Raptor draft pick (I feel like I’m writing a eulogy here) and perhaps the best ball handler off the bench. His playoff minutes may not have been too high and he was due for a new contract in July, so the Raptors can at least afford to see him go. CJ Miles, on the other hand, was a nice guy and had his moments last year, but he definitely wasn’t going to see the floor in the playoffs much at this current rate. It was a frustrating, up-and-down ride with CJ, but he’ll be missed. Shoutout to his wife Lauren for being a core part of Raps Twitter.
The Raptors also dealt Greg Monroe today and will be with only ten players tonight in Atlanta. Hopefully, they put up a better performance there than the Rams did.