News of the Toronto Raptors' shocking trade of star centre Jonas Valančiūnas to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Marc Gasol has basketball fans stunned as they try to come to terms with the loss of the beloved player.
Raptors fans were excited to see the return of star centre Jonas Valančiūnas tonight, who was out of commission for two months after he dislocated his left thumb during a game against the Gold State Warriors. However, news of Valančiūnas' return was quickly disrupted after news broke that he had been traded to Memphis Grizzlies.
Rumours of a possible trade had been swirling around Raptor's organization over the last few days, with both Valančiūnas' and Toronto powerhouse Kyle Lowry mentioned in trade pitches.
However, due to Lowry's dip in performance this past year, most notably when his free-throw rate dropped several points, it was Valančiūnas who became a better trade for the Grizzlies.
Valančiūnas had previously weighed in on trade discussion stating that he wished to stay in Toronto. “I’ve been in rumours so many times I don’t even look at it,” joked Valanciunas according to TSN. “I just know one thing, we have a good team, we have a good future in front of us. I just want to go on the court and play ball and win games. I love Toronto and I want to stay here.”
Rumours remained unconfirmed until just moments ago, with most fans bracing for a Lowry departure before being blindsided with news of the trade.
Lowry could have very well played his last game for Toronto, let's see if anything goes down tomorrow— Raptors Nation™ (@WeTheNorth__) February 6, 2019
Fans even celebrated the return of Valančiūnas, only to find out he had been traded on the exact same day that he was set to return on.
He's back. pic.twitter.com/OvOgShEWvq— Raptors Nation™ (@WeTheNorth__) February 7, 2019
The Raptors currently hold a comfortable lead within the league's Atlantic Division and have marked themselves as a formidable force, and they stand a chance to break through the Eastern Conference this year.