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Olynyk says signing extension with hometown Raptors was a priority

Kelly Olynyk Toronto Raptors Kelly Olynyk - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Once Kelly Olynyk was traded from the Utah Jazz to the Toronto Raptors, he knew he had to sign an extension with his hometown team.

The 32-year-old Olynyk, who was born in Toronto and moved to Kamloops, B.C., when he was an adolescent, signed a two-year contract extension with the Raptors on Monday. Although the six-foot-11 centre could have tested free agency this summer and possibly got a longer or more lucrative deal, he chose to get an extension done quickly to stay in Toronto.

"They traded for me, they wanted me here. Just to reciprocate that love and show that I do want to be here, too," said Olynyk, who was dealt to the Raptors on Feb. 8. "I’ve wanted to be here since I was four years old so it’s special.

"I wanted to create that trust and that bond. Hopefully, I can be here for the rest of my career."

Details of Olynyk's extension were not announced, but ESPN reported it was a two-year deal worth US$26.25 million.

He is averaging 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 20.4 minutes in 59 games this season with Utah and Toronto. Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic said that he is ecstatic with the signing.

"I think that he's the right guy for our team, the right fit," said Rajakovic. "Him coming back home — it's a great story for you guys, as well — I think it's amazing and I think it's the right fit.

"He comes to our team in the right moment to help with our young core and young players developing."

It's expected that Olynyk will see more playing time, and consequently have his stat averages go up, with starting centre Jakob Poeltl missing an unknown amount of time with a dislocated finger.

"I think we have a lot of talent on this roster, a lot of young talent, that’s trying to find their way and their niche in the league," Olynyk said. "I'm bringing my experience, versatility, to help accent those pieces and bring them all together.

"Some leadership and experience on and off the court, just helping them grow."

Olynyk has averaged 10.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 22.5 minutes over his career with Boston, Miami, Houston, Detroit, Utah and Toronto. He was traded to the Raptors alongside guard Ochai Agbaji in exchange for Kira Lewis Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and a 2024 first-round draft pick.

Knowing that Toronto general manager Bobby Webster and team president Masai Ujiri swung the deal to bring him home, Olynyk said that negotiations on his extension went smoothly.

"They traded for me and Ochai and they wanted us both here as pieces to the puzzle long term and that's something that I want to be a part of," said Olynyk. "You always want to be somewhere where people want you to be, right? That's always a good thing."

Olynyk is also the captain of Canada's men's senior team that will compete at this summer's Paris Olympics. He wanted to have the deal with the Raptors squared away so he could focus on the Olympics when the NBA season is over.

"That was definitely a big part of it as well, getting this out of the way," said Olynyk after morning shootaround at OVO Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto. "Training camp starts a little bit before free agency, so to not have that on your plate and your mind, just be able to play free and easy and then obviously in the summer just be able to work out, train, and be present right at the start with no complications is a big factor."

Toronto also announced Tuesday it signed guard Jahmi'us (pronounced juh-MY'-us) Ramsey to a 10-day contract. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The six-foot-three Ramsey averaged 20.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists over 30 G League games with the Oklahoma City Blue.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2024.

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