Jonas Valanciunas wants to extend with the New Orleans Pelicans

Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Veteran big man Jonas Valanciunas has spent his last two seasons in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans. And it looks like he would like to keep that streak going, as he said he wants to extend his contract once his current one expires.

"“I would like to stay and extend my contract,” Valanciunas said. “Obviously, during the season, you try to help the team as much as possible, but when the summer comes, you try to take care of your own things – how to extend the contract and stuff.”"

Valanciunas is currently signed through this season (set to make about 15.4 million), but after that is set to be an unrestricted free agent in the 2024 off-season (per Spotrac).

During his tenure with the team, Valanciunas has proven to be quite reliable, participating in 153 of 164 possible regular season games and averaging 15.9 PPG and 10.8 RPG on 61.3% True Shooting in 27.5 minutes of action per contest.

He’s a solid offensive option at the center, but the problem with bringing him back is his defense. We’ve talked before about the Pelicans struggles protecting the rim. A lot of that falls on Valanciunas’ lack of defensive verticality. On the season, opponents are shooting 70.2% at the rim when he’s on the floor, which is in just the 15th percentile for his position (per Cleaning the Glass). His block rate is also in just the 39th percentile for his position (1.3%).

Still, Valanciunas is a big body, a respected veteran, and someone you can count on to play almost every night. There is a place for him on the team moving forward. It would just need to be in a smaller role and at a lower figure than that 15.4 million number he’s set to make this upcoming season.

Valanciunas was acquired during the 2021 offseason in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies in a deal that involved the Pelicans packaging Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, and two future first-round picks (including the pick that became Ziaire Williams) in exchange for Valanciunas and the 17th overall pick in the 2021 draft (which they would use to draft Trey Murphy III).

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