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Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas agrees to 2-year extension

Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas agrees to 2-year extension

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas has agreed to a two-year extension worth a reported $30.1 million.

The extension was announced by the Pelicans on Wednesday, the same day Valanciunas made his New Orleans debut against Philadelphia.

Valanciunas' extension was first reported by ESPN, which received financial terms from the center's representative with the agency CAA.

New Orleans acquired the 29-year-old Valanciunas, a nine-year veteran from Lithuania, in a trade with Memphis this past offseason. The Pelicans sent Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe to the Grizzlies.

Valanciunas averaged 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds with Memphis last season.

New Orleans traded for him in the hopes his versatility and shooting range will create more room for star Zion Williamson to operate inside.

First-year Pelicans coach Willie Green said the extension was “extremely important” for the continuity of the franchise.

“Jonas brings a veteran presence to our team,” Green said. “He can post, he can shoot the ball from outside. More than that he's a great guy to have around. He's done it for a number of years now and we need his knowhow.”

Valanciunas entered the NBA in 2011 when he was drafted fifth overall by Toronto, where he played six full seasons before being traded to Memphis during the 2018-19 season. He has appeared in 621 games with 592 starts, averaging 12.9 points on 56.6% shooting, 9.2 rebounds and a block in 25.6 minutes per game.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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