Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas, the fifth pick in the 2011 draft, has begun negotiating his release from his European team, sources told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, and is expected to be able to play in North America next season.
Valanciunas has a $2.4 million buyout in his contract with his Lithuanian team, of which the Raptors are only permitted to pay $550,000. Valanciunas had previously said he was willing to pay whatever he had to in order to play in the NBA. Valanciunas, who just turned 20 on May 6, is listed at 7-foot, 240 pounds and projects as a true center rather than a stretch power forward. His presence should allow Andrea Bargnani, the team's leading scorer, to move out of the middle to the four or even the three, since Toronto also has Amir Johnson and Ed Davis to play power forward.