TORONTO (Olympics/NBA) – Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas can at last focus his full attention on the London Games after agreeing to an NBA contract on Wednesday with the Toronto Raptors.
France’s Nicolas Batum will also be able to concentrate on the Olympics after he puts pen to paper on a four-year deal on Thursday in Portland with the Trail Blazers.
The 20-year-old Valanciunas, fresh off helping Lithuania capture one of the three spots to the London Games at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Caracas, Venezuela, has signed a two-year deal with two team option years.
The Blazers, meanwhile, announced on Wednesday they had matched the Minnesota Timberwolves’ four-year offer to restricted free agent Batum.
Valanciunas was the fifth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft but remained in Europe with Lietuvos Rytas for another season.
He was the MVP of the FIBA U19 World Championship in Riga last year after leading Lithuania to the gold medal.
The 2.13m center then played for the senior team at EuroBasket 2011 and averaged 8.4 points and 4.1 rebounds as the Baltic side finished fifth.
At the OQT earlier this month, where he was watched by Toronto vice president and assistant general manager Maurizio Gherardini, Valanciunas averaged eight points and four boards.
In the 109-83 Semi-Final victory over the Dominican Republic that punched Lithuania's ticket to London, Valanciunas had 17 points, seven rebounds and a block.
While Valanciunas has a lot to prove in the NBA, Batum already has four years of experience in the league.
"I'm happy about it," Batum said.
"I knew I was going to be back here."
Valanciunas will square off against Batum at the Olympics when Lithuania meet France in Group A on 2 August.