Maintaining that self-belief has been crucial, especially over the last 12 months. Like the rest of us, he’s seen his name pop up in trade rumours. He’s heard people speculate about his position becoming obsolete in the ever-evolving NBA. Has it motivated him? “That is not motivating me at all,” he insisted. “I know what is motivating me – my family, I’ve got my teammates motivating me, the front office who are [telling me] what they want to do motivates me. I understand people got to talk, people are meant to talk, it’s never going to be different these days with social media and all that stuff, I see some [expletive] things but I just don’t give a [expletive]. I know what I’ve got to do, I know what my role is on this team and the team is the most important thing.”
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Toronto called dangling Jonas Valanciunas before the deadline, and Sacramento and Phoenix also expressed strong interest in Drummond in June, per sources. There’s enough grease to ultimately move the wheels and find Drummond a new home before the season starts, and he’s almost certainly not finishing out the final four years of his five-year, max contract in Detroit.
It’s no secret that the Raptors have been shopping the 7-footer for the better part of the last six months. It’s been widely reported and Ujiri made little attempt to hide it on Tuesday. “Every player, from all the processes that we went through this summer, every player’s name was in trade talks,” Ujiri insisted. “That’s me being black and white. The players know, the agents know.” “I’ll be transparent,” he continued later, “there were some scenarios where if we’re trying to create [salary cap] space and do some other things in some of the other scenarios we had that maybe we made a move [with Valanciunas]. But with this team now we’re very comfortable.”
They spoke with several teams and a couple of them were willing to simply absorb the salary, according to sources, but the Raptors were reluctant to give Valanciunas away without recouping any value. They had drafted him fifth overall in 2011 and have spent five years’ worth of time and resources developing him. Most importantly, while his market value has crashed, he still has value to them, even in a situational role. He’s a nice luxury to have, assuming you can afford that luxury.
Jonas Valanciunas is still very much a part of the Raptors’ future plans, according to team president Masai Ujiri. Sporting News NBA insider Sean Deveney reported Monday that Toronto has been trying unsuccessfully since the trade deadline to find a taker for the 7-foot center, who’d fallen out of favor in the offseason remake of the team’s rotation players. Ujiri responded with a vote of confidence in the big man.
“We’re very comfortable with JV. We’re not trying to give JV away,” Ujiri told reporters during a press conference Tuesday to introduce newly acquired veteran C.J. Miles. “I’ll be transparent, there were some scenarios where if we’re trying to create space and do some other things in some of the other scenarios we had that maybe we make a move, but with this team now we’re very comfortable.”
Toronto held conversations with Detroit and New Orleans at the deadline and again during the draft, sources told SN. Sacramento, Phoenix, Charlotte, Portland and Atlanta also kicked the tires, but talks never materialized.
Toronto has sought to deal Valanciunas since the February trade deadline. They’d had conversations with Detroit and New Orleans then, sources said, and continued to have discussions around Valanciunas at the draft, but talks with the likes of Sacramento, Phoenix, Charlotte, Portland and Atlanta did not get very far.
Valanciunas could wind up being eclipsed in Toronto, even without a deal. One of the aims of the offseason for the Raptors was to both unload some salary and clear up playing time for some younger, hungrier players the Raptors have been developing. Among those are second-year men Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam, and both had very good showings this summer.
Michael Grange: A couple of league sources have told me that Raps are looking into moving Jonas Valanciunas and the No.23 pick.
Trading Jonas Valanciunas loomed as the alternate cost-cutting measure, but no one needs a center. The most likely Valanciunas deals would return someone else’s unwanted big fella.
Kevin Arnovitz: Valanciunas was in some trade talks.
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November 19, 2017 | 11:49 am EST Update
Coach Luke Walton said a teammate spoke to Lonzo Ball about the rookie point guard walking away from a scuffle toward the end of the Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns game on Friday night. “Someone on our team talked with him,” Walton said after the Lakers’ practice Saturday, without disclosing who it was. “It’s all part of the learning process.”
Kyle Kuzma is at once the most likely to clown Lonzo Ball whenever he can and the first to stick up for his fellow Los Angeles Lakers rookie. The No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA draft out of Utah recently explained his stance on behalf of this year’s No. 2 pick to Lakers Nation’s Harrison Faigen.