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Toronto Raptors sign Lithuanian centre Jonas Valanciunas to rookie contract

Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas (L) of Lithuania and Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo holds Valanciunas' new jersey in Toronto, June 24, 2011. Valanciunas was picked in the fifth spot in the NBA's draft.


The lengthy process to bring Jonas Valanciunas to Toronto is almost over.

The Raptors announced Wednesday that they have signed the seven-foot centre rookie contract.

The deal is for two seasons, with two team option years to follow.

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The Raptors drafted Valanciunas with the fifth overall pick of the 2011 NBA draft. But they had to wait before they could bring him to the NBA as he had a US$2.5 million buyout with Lietuvos Rytas, a club team in his native Lithuania.

Valanciunas averaged 14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 23.5 minutes in 23 games last season with Lietuvos. He also played for the gold-medal winning Lithuania team at the 2011 under-19 world championships. He averaged 23.0 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks en route to the most valuable player award.

"We are very pleased to welcome Jonas to the organization," said Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo in a statement. "We are certain that Raptors fans will soon realize that the year-long process was worth the wait."

Valanciunas is expected to be a big part of a young Raptors team, which includes newcomers Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields, Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy.

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