In Bill Simmons’ annual Trade Value column, there was this juicy little nugget:
As for Valanciunas, the promising Raptors big man who’s been averaging a 15-7 since mid-March, here’s a true story: When Sam Presti was quietly shopping James Harden last October, he called Toronto to feel out a Jonas package. And got rebuffed. Quickly.
And added this footnote with it:
Our pal Chris Broussard told me this one and nearly made my eyeballs fly out of my head. But I got it confirmed — it’s true.
I honestly don’t know what to make of it. The Thunder were rumored to be enthralled with Valanciunas before the 2011 Draft, and tried to move up to get him.
So it’s not all that surprising the Thunder would check on it, but man, the Raptors must think highly of Valanciunas to rebuff a potential offer of Harden. But then again, they might not have been psyched about dropping an $80 million max right after they stupidly locked up Landry Fields and DeMar DeRozan to a combined $60 million.
Surely it wouldn’t have been a straight up deal though. While Valanciunas is a nice young talent, when you’re dealing a player the caliber of Harden, you want the young talent along with assets and in the Thunder’s case, a veteran. Acquiring Valanciunas would’ve made it more likely to amnesty Kendrick Perkins, and a frontcourt of Ibaka and Valanciunas would’ve been interesting.
Still, doesn’t seem like that great of a trade for OKC.