Grizzlies to send former Raptor Valanciunas to Pelicans in multi-player trade: source

The Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to trade centre Jonas Valanciunas to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for centre Steven Adams, guard Eric Bledsoe and a swap of multiple draft choices, a person familiar with the situation said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because no trade can become official until Aug. 6.

The trade, first reported by ESPN, sends New Orleans’ 10th and 40th overall draft choices to Memphis for the Grizzlies’ 17th and 51st overall picks this year.

Memphis also will receive a protected 2022 first-round choice from New Orleans.

The deal comes on the heels of New Orleans’ decision to hire Willie Green, their third head coach in three seasons, as the franchise faces mounting pressure to inspire confidence in star forward Zion Williamson after missing the playoffs his first two NBA campaigns.

Valanciunas has played nine seasons in the NBA, averaging 12.9 and 9.2 points per game. The 29-year-old centre from Lithuania has spent his past three seasons with Memphis. Last season, he averaged 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds to help the Grizzlies reach the playoffs.

He was drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Raptors at the 2011 NBA Draft. He was traded to the Grizzlies in 2019 in exchange for Marc Gasol along with C. J. Miles, Delon Wright and a 2024 second-round draft pick.

The deal clears the way for young Pelicans guards Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr. — both first-round draft choices in the past two years — to see more playing time. The move also gives New Orleans more than $20 million US in additional space under the salary cap heading into free agency. Valanciunas is due $14 million this season, while Bledsoe is set to earn $18 million and Adams $17 million.

Bledsoe is an 11-year veteran who averaged 12.2 points, 3.8 assists and and 3.4 rebounds in his lone season with the Pelicans, who had acquired him from Milwaukee during the 2020 offseason as part of a trade that sent Jrue Holiday to the Bucks.

Adams is an eight-year veteran who averaged 8.9 rebounds and 7.6 points for New Orleans last season after spending his first seven NBA campaigns with Oklahoma City.

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