Raptors’ Valanciunas is out – now what?


Jonas Valanciunas, the Toronto Raptors starting centre, has been sidelined indefinitely with a broken bone in his left hand. The injury was sustained in what appeared to be a nothing play against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. Stuff happens, and now the Raptors must cope without their most capable big man. What are they going to do to backfill?

Since you’re asking, Yes, I do have a few ideas to share. Let’s consider all the options, then choose the best.

The team could do precisely zero. Declare Bismack Biyombo the starting centre, play short one roster spot, and see how everyone responds.

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Moving from a passive to an active response, the Raptors might call up someone from the Development League squad. I suppose, since we’re spitballing here, the candidates include the giant pride of Brampton’s south Asian community, Sim Bhullar, Michale Kyser or Lucas Nogueira.

Or, General Manager Masai Ujiri might be working the phones as I write, trying to pry loose a centre via trade. Most of them are gainfully employed, so I’m not going to waste time speculating on the chances of acquiring Kelly Olynyk or Rudy Gobert. However, useful veterans who might be available include DeJuan Blair, Robert Sacre and Cole Aldrich.

OK, here’s the deal. Doing nothing is only an option for one game, that being tomorrow night against the Clippers on the West Coast. I don’t see the sense in rushing a warm body out there. After that, it’s time for action. I’m sceptical the Raptors can find a trade partner willing to accept a reasonable deal. We’re the distressed buyer, so the price goes up. Our team has lots to offer, like first-round draft picks and decent rotation players like Patrick Patterson, but those are precious assets. They would be too much to surrender for a temporary fix. If JV was done for the season, I might feel different, but he’s not, so I don’t.

Which leaves us with: a D-League callup. While Sim has played a few seconds of time in the NBA, he’s not really an option. He’s never been on the floor as a Raptor. Kyser is nowhere near ready. Nogueira is the choice; he knows the team’s playbook. “Bebe” will see some playing time, and shouldn’t do any damage. At worst, he can play Hack-A-Big, grab a few boards, and change some shots on D. He’s got better hands than Biyombo  (who doesn’t?) and can pick and pass adequately. Whether opposing defenders will pay him any attention on the screen and roll is another matter, and outside coach Dwane Casey’s control.

Sep 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Raptors centre Lucas Nogueira (92) during the media day at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

While Bebe is getting his baptism of fire, Masai needs to ensure his cell phone is on. Should the B & B Show fail miserably (and that’s entirely possible), having a deal near to completion would be wise.

What do you think, Rapture Nation? Can Bismack & Bebe handle the workload? Do you have a trade you’d like to suggest which can ease the pain of JV’s enforced absence? Please let us know in the Comments.

Next: Is Dwane Casey's time growing short in Toronto?

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.