The New Orleans Pelicans and Jonas Valanciunas have agreed to a two-year, $30.1 million extension, according to multiple media reports. The big man arrived in New Orleans via an offseason trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, and was on an expiring deal this season. He was among the list of potential trade candidates entering the season, but the Pelicans appear to want to keep him around for a while.
Valanciunas was productive for the Grizzlies last season, averaging 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He has some defensive limitations but should be an offensive force for the Pelicans this season. The only issue here might have be a long-term fit with New Orleans looking to play faster, but the Pelicans apparently don’t feel that is a concern.
New Orleans is +700 to win its division, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, puttin gthe Pelicans behind the Mavericks and Grizzlies. The team is an underdog to make the playoffs at +190. This is a pivotal season for the Pelicans, with speculation about Zion Williamson’s future. Making the playoffs would take a lot of pressure off this franchise. Valanciunas should be at the forefront of that effort.