Jonas Valanciunas is near a buyout agreement with his Lithuanian club Lietvus Rykos as the 2011 NBA Draft nears, according to Chad Ford of ESPN. But the buyout would prevent Valanciunas from playing in the NBA in the 2011-12 season, and that will significantly damage Valanciunas' draft stock.
Valanciunas has been projected as the No. 4 pick in Thursday's draft, with the Cleveland Cavaliers considering the Lithuanian center after taking point guard Kyrie Irving at No. 1. But Ford reports the Cavs won't take him if he can't come to the NBA immediately, and at least a few other teams in the lottery have to feel the same way.
That boosts the chance of a player like Enes Kanter, Jan Vesely or Kawhi Leonard moving up. Ford pegs Valanciunas' new floor as the Houston Rockets at No. 14.
Valanciunas is under contract with his Lithuanian club, and the NBA, as a member of FIBA, is prohibited from allowing players to perform for an NBA team while under contract with another club in a FIBA-sanctioned league. Buyouts are frequently a hurdle for young NBA prospects from Europe and South America; the players sign long-term deals as teenagers to maximize income, and then have to negotiate out of them when the NBA comes calling.