Valanciunas: Grizzlies' next head coach 'huge factor' in player option
"It's still early to say," Valanciunas said in his native Lithuania on Tuesday, according to basketball journalist Donatas Urbonas. "Deeper into the summer, we'll have a better picture who's staying and what are the team plans. Firstly, I want to see who's a head coach. It’s gonna be a huge factor."
The Grizzlies have yet to fill their head coaching vacancy, which was created by J.B. Bickerstaff's firing in April.
Among others, Lithuanian basketball icon Sarunas Jasikevicius has been linked to the Grizzlies' job. Jasikevicius currently coaches European side BC Zalgiris and was visited by Grizzlies vice president Tayshaun Prince this spring, according to BasketNews' John Miklov.
Of course, Valanciunas could still re-sign in Memphis even if he declines his option for 2019-20. It's not unusual to see a player sacrifice short-term money in favor of locking in a long-term contract, and the timing could be right for the Grizzlies' big man, who enjoyed breakout success down the stretch after being acquired from the Toronto Raptors as part of the Marc Gasol trade.
In 19 appearances with Memphis, the 27-year-old Valanciunas averaged 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game. Each of those numbers would represent career highs if sustained over an entire season.