The Pelicans And Jonas Valanciunas Agreed To A 2-Year Extension Worth $30.1 Million

Hours ahead of he and the team’s 2021-22 regular-season debut, Jonas Valanciunas agreed to a two-year, $30.1 million contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

New Orleans acquired Valanciunas this summer when they sent Steven Adams and the 10th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Valanciunas and the 17th selection. The contract extension will keep him in the Big Easy through 2023-24 after he was initially slated to become a restricted free agent following this season. This also marks the second consecutive year the Pelicans have traded for a pending free agent center (Adams in 2020) and subsequently extended him prior to the start of the regular season.

Unlike the Adams extension, though, this looks to be a sound team-building decision. Valanciunas is a much better player, squarely in his prime at 29 years old and brings New Orleans a reliable interior scorer outside of Zion Williamson, which they’ve needed in recent seasons. While spacing beyond the arc is probably the ideal complement alongside Zion, someone who can create for himself, provide adequate drop coverage defensively in pick-and-rolls and owns the glass is quite beneficial too.

Valanciunas, who averaged 17.1 points on 63.6 percent true shooting last season, gives Brandon Ingram and Devonte’ Graham a viable pick-and-roll partner and can help buoy non-Zion minutes. He fits rather well on this team and now, he’ll be around for at least three years.