Raptors not sold on Ibaka-Valanciunas pairing

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The Toronto Raptors are not sold on the Serge Ibaka-Jonas Valanciunas pairing and will listen to trade offers for both players this offseason, according to a report from TSN.ca.

The report states that no player on the roster is untouchable, including All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

The Raptors had the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this past season with a regular season record of 59-23, but were swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

The early exit cost coach Dwane Casey his job, as he was fired and replaced by assistant Nick Nurse.

If the Raptors had it their way, they would trade Ibaka and keep Valanciunas.

Nurse and Valanciunas have a strong relationship, as the two spent hours working on improving Valanciunas’s three-point shot this year.

In 2017-18, Valanciunas shot 74 three-pointers, hitting 30 of them. He spoke many times about how Nurse’s philosophy was something he would have to adapt to considering the traditional big man game in the post is not something that is utilized often in today’s NBA.

The 26-year-old Valanciunas is set to make $16.5 million in 2018-19 and has a player option worth $17.6 million for 2019-20.

There is optimism within the Raptors organization that Valanciunas will have more confidence in his perimeter game and won’t be hesitant to shoot more threes now that Nurse is the head man in charge.

In 77 games this year, Valanciunas averaged 12.7 points and 8.6 rebounds, shooting 56.8 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Ibaka, meanwhile, has been a huge disappointment since the Raptors traded for him in 2017. Finding a trade partner willing to absorb the $44.9 million Ibaka is owed over the next two seasons would likely require Toronto to take back a bad contract or cost them additional assets.

In 99 games with the Raptors, Ibaka is averaging 13.0 points and 6.4 rebounds, shooting 47.7 percent overall and 37.0 percent from three.