Pelicans Sign Jonas Valanciunas to 2-Year, $30.1 Million Extension

Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas (right) trying to stop Denver Nuggets' Emmanuel Mudiay,from driving to the basket. Photo by Canadian Press/REX/Shutterstock (6908090p)

The New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to an extension with their newly acquired center Jonas Valanciunas. The deal, confirmed by player’s agents to Andrew Lopez of ESPN, locks Valanciunas under contract through 2023-24 NBA season.

Valanciunas, who joined the Pelicans in a trade during the offseason, had one year left on a three-year, $45 million contract he signed with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2019. His new extension is reportedly worth $30.1 million.

Valanciunas seemed to acknowledge the agreement with the Pelicans on Wednesday during a chat with reporters. The 29-year-old said that he liked the way he was welcome to New Orleans and would be “really happy” to be part of the franchise in the future.

“The organization has been great and helping me out,” he added. “They made it feel like I’ve been here for a long time so I wanted to come back.”

Valanciunas had a career season with the Grizzlies in 2020-21, averaging a career-high 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. Despite this, Memphis decided to trade him to New Orleans in a three-team trade that saw them land a package that included center Steven Adams, guard Eric Bledsoe, 2021’s number 10 pick Zaire Williams and a protected first-rounder in 2022.

Valanciunas entered the league as the Toronto Raptors’ fifth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Lithuanian has NBA career averages of 12.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.