Raptors acquire Gasol from Grizzlies for package including Valanciunas

Marc Gasol

The Raptors also sent center Greg Monroe to the Brooklyn Nets for a second-round pick, The Athletic reports.

Prior to the trade, the Raptors had expected the center to return against Atlanta on Thursday night, with the team tweeting out a picture of Valanciunas with a quote from him saying, "I'm back".

The team plans to aggressively pursue options who have been, or will be, made available in the buyout market, the Raptors president said during his post-deadline press conference. He has missed Toronto's last 25 games.

With Kawhi Leonard's contract expiring and the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks stockpiling picks around them in the East, the Raptors are making their move.

In parting ways with Valanciunas, the Raptors lose a genuinely likeable big man, a guy who had become a franchise great somewhat by virtue of having been a long-serving member of the team during the best era in its history.

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Gasol, who played 11 seasons in Memphis, is slated to make US$24.1 million this season and has a player option for $25.6 million next season. The seven-foot-one Spaniard is a two-time Olympian, and will be reunited with Spanish coach and Raptors assistant Sergio Scariolo in Toronto.

Valanciunas told reporters in Atlanta on Thursday morning: "I am really excited. If nothing insane happens, I will be playing".

It's an interesting game to pick for his return, as it's trade deadline day in the National Basketball Association and Valanciunas' name has been tossed around recently. He is averaging just 18.8 minutes per game. He voiced his "Frustration, anger and helplessness" on Twitter, writing "It's unbelievable how so many vulnerable people are abandoned to their deaths at sea". "I'm sure they'll make the most of a new opportunity and chance to go out there and prove themselves with another team".

Ujiri's biggest trade deadline moves came in 2017, when he acquired Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic and P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns.

If Conley changes his mind, Utah might not be the worst landing spot, as playing alongside a young talent like Donovan Mitchell could allow him to play off the ball more and give in to his recent scoring ways, allowing him to flourish for a team with playoff aspirations.

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