The Toronto Raptors' historic NBA championship victory was a bittersweet moment for Jonas Valanciunas, who watched on as his former teammates lifted the Larry O'Brien trophy.
Valanciunis played six-and-a-half seasons in Toronto before being traded at the February deadline, along with Delon Wright, CJ Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to Memphis in exchange for Marc Gasol, who played a pivotal role in the Raptors' title run.
Valanciunas on Raptors NBA title: "I was thrilled, but a bit annoyed at the same time. I'm really happy for Toronto because they were my family for 7 years. But, of course, it was sad that I wasn't part of that team in the Finals."- Donatas Urbonas (@Urbodo) July 4, 2019
The 27-year-old told Lithuanian basketball journalist Donatas Urbonas of 15 Min's: "I was thrilled, but a bit annoyed at the same time. I'm really happy for Toronto because they were my family for 7 years. But, of course, it was sad that I wasn't part of that team in the Finals."
Valanciunas had spent his entire career with the Raptors prior to the trade, after being selected with the no.5 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on a title, Valanciunis enjoyed a resurgent second half of the season with the Grizzlies, averaging a career-high 19.9 points and 10.7 rebounds in 19 games.
The 7-footer reportedly agreed to a three-year, $45 million deal with the Grizzlies in free agency, finding a solid fit in Memphis, who boast two budding young stars on the roster in Jaren Jackson Jr. and no.2 pick in this year's draft Ja Morant.
"I wanted to settle down in one place for a longer time," Valanciunis told Urbonas. "Grizzlies had hopes on me and I'm happy to be part of this. We're young, we're rebuilding, but we have high aims. It's interesting to see how we gonna look among the other teams."