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Valanciunas shoots down report he’ll play in Toronto this year

2011 NBA Draft

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 23: Jonas Valanciunas (R) from Utena, Lithuania greets NBA Commissioner David Stern after he was picked #5 overall by the Toronto Raptors in the first round during the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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Eventually Jonas Valanciunas, the No. 5 pick of the Raptors this past draft, will play in Toronto. And maybe play well (he looked good in international tournaments this summer.)

Reports came up over the weekend that Valanciunas might play for the Raptors this season, but the man himself seemed to shoot that down in an interview with And the team’s director certainly did.

“I’m currently with Lietuvos Rytas and I’m not really interested in those talks. There’s a lot to be done here. I’m in Lietuvos Rytas, not the Raptors,” said Jonas Valanciunas.

The club’s sporting director Martynas Purlys confirmed that the situation hadn’t changed and that Valanciunas will only leave once the season is over.

“Jonas will stay in Lietuvos Rytas until the end of the season. This has been agreed and we are not going to break the agreement,” said the club’s official.

The Raptors say they are in the market for all the major centers out there right now — Nene, Tyson Chandler and Marc Gasol. They will almost certainly get none of them (but they had to make the effort).

If you’re going to have a down season and end up in the lottery, this is a good year to do it. There’s a deep draft coming. Then next season you bring in this year’s high pick plus a more seasoned Valanciunas and suddenly the winter seems a little warmer in Toronto.