As many Eastern Conference contenders were making moves to bolster their chances to make the NBA Finals, you had a feeling Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors weren't going to stand idle.
It's an interesting game to pick for his return, as it's trade deadline day in the National Basketball Association and Valanciunas' name has been tossed around recently.
"That's our goal and I think everybody on the team understands that and we'll keep trying to achieve that goal". And then a little after midday the Milwaukee Bucks jumped in, pilfering sweet-shooting big man Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans for roster flotsam and draft picks, an addition that will make the East-leading Bucks even more of a handful than the Toronto Raptors have already found them to be.
In order to acquire Gasol, the Hornets would have to roughly match his $24.1 million salary with contracts sent to the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies traded Gasol to Toronto on Thursday at the National Basketball Association trade deadline, more than two weeks after owner Robert Pera told both Gasol and Conley that they would be listening to offers for two of the league's longest-tenured teammates.
Bulls trade Parker and Portis to Wizards for Otto Porter Jr
Parker's departure was largely expected, presuming the Bulls could find a salary to match Parker's $20 million tag. Washington was set to be repeat offenders of the luxury tax, but this trade now moves them closer out of it.
Gasol, 34, is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and a career-high 4.7 assists (which ranks second among National Basketball Association centers, trailing only Nikola Jokic's 7.7). The Raptors made a big move last summer in sending franchise cornerstone DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Leonard. "I'll miss him", Nurse said.
In Valanciunas, the Raptors' lose of their most popular players.
They surely didn't envision that deal as being a one-year rental. While everyone wondered what Ujiri would do after another embarrassing playoff exit, we now have our answer: He blew it up. And certainly miss him.
The 26-year-old, who was drafted by Toronto fifth overall in 2011, was finally cleared to play Thursday after missing 25 games with a dislocated left thumb. The coach was unusually soft-spoken after the win, and said it had been a tough day.
Gasol, meanwhile, could be in the Raptors' lineup Saturday in NY pending a team physical. The Raptors have just 10 players under National Basketball Association contracts, and they must be at 14 within the next two weeks.