Jonas Valanciunas will be staying in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. On Wednesday, Valanciunas and the Pelicans agreed to a two-year extension worth $30.1 million, his agents Aaron Mintz, Mitch Nathan and Drew Morrison of CAA Basketball told ESPN. Prior to the extension, Valanciunas had one year remaining on his current contract with the Pelicans. Now he's under team control through the 2023-24 season.
Valanciunas was traded to the Pelicans from the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a three-team trade that also included the Charlotte Hornets in August. At the time, Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin was excited about the addition.
"As we entered this offseason, we were intently focused upon improving our shooting, leadership and the overall fit of our roster," Griffin said at the time. "The players that are joining us today speak directly to those areas of concern. More importantly, their strength of character as men, and teammates that are eager to be part of our larger Pelicans family will be critical as we continue building towards sustainable success."
Since joining the Pelicans, Valanciunas has been extremely happy with the organization, including the coaching staff and his teammates, and thus he decided that it was a good place for him to remain moving forward.
"It was good for me so I decided I wanted to stay here," Valanciunas said of the extension on Wednesday. "If they wanted to keep me, I would be really happy to stay here. I felt like this was my family here. I'm happy now... From a coaching standpoint, they understand me and what I do. We have good teammates. They've welcomed me. The organization has been great and helping me out. They made it feel like I've been here for a long time so I wanted to come back."
Now that the contract business is taken care of, Valanciunas is eager to focus on the upcoming season and trying to help the Pelicans qualify for postseason play for the first time since 2018.
"Now we have a lot of stuff to do," Valanciunas said. "We have to prove that we can be really good, prove that we can learn how to win the games. We are able to do that. We have the talent. The coaching staff is really good for us. Now we have to put in that work and win some games now."
The Pelicans open up their '21-22 campaign against the Philadelphia 76ers in New Orleans on Wednesday night.