Jonas Valanciunas’ buyout raised – or not

Erildas Budraitis Real GM:

The buyout in the contract of Jonas Valanciunas with Lietuvos Rytas will be raised to at least $3 million USD, confirmed agent Sarunas Broga to RealGM.

But the extremely reliable Jonathan Givony of Draft Express disagrees:

Valanciunas report from Lithuania is inaccurate. There is no set buyout amount yet. Negotiations ongoing. Both parties still holding firm.

Givony has led the coverage of Valanciunas’ buyout, so I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. Here’s what Givony wrote May 22:

Rytas has taken a major step forward in resolving the buyout issue in recent days by hiring a European lawyer with significant experience in NBA buyout negotiations. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Rytas will attempt to structure the buyout on a sliding scale depending on where he gets picked, and are willing to be flexible with Valanciunas on when he can leave the team in case of an NBA lockout, even giving him the opportunity to stay with the team until he signs his rookie contract.

Valanciunas has three more years on his contract after this current season, with no buyout option. His American agent Leon Rose of CAA has been negotiating with the team for the better part of the year Most of the dispute revolves around when the buyout will be paid. The team, which is in serious financial trouble, wants the money now, not when he joins the NBA. It’s asking for a percentage of Valanciunas’ rookie contract. An agreement could have already been reached some time ago but the team has sent mixed messages.

Most expect a deal to be struck no more than a week before the draft. Valanciunas falling in the draft will only hurt Rytas’ cause as not only will it lose significant respect from fans and constituents in basketball-crazy Lithuania, but it’ll also hurt its chances of landing the next great young local prospect with NBA aspirations. Furthermore, being drafted lower results in a smaller contract.

Based purely on his basketball ability and age, I’d think Valanciunas would get drafted before the Pistons pick at No. 8. His buyout might make him available with the eighth pick, but at that point, there’s a narrow window where Detroit shouldn’t pass on him, too. So, his buyout situation definitely bears watching.

The Pistons would be allowed to contribute more than $500,000 toward his buyout, but any amount above $500,000 would count against the cap (in the current CBA), according to Larry Coon. For what it’s worth, the Pistons have fewer 2011-12 committed dollars than the Cavaliers and Jazz, but more than the Timberwolves, Raptors, Wizards and Kings, according to Sham Sports.

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