Earlier reports about the Raptors amnestied player, Linas Kleiza, indicated the forward was healthy and likely to return to Europe for next season. Basketnews.lt has confirmed Kleiza will sign a two-year deal with Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey for 1.6 million Euros although the details about the contract were not available.
“According to the report, a contract will be signed for two years. Its value – 1.6 million Euro. True, it is not clear whether this amount would be paid within a year or two.” (translated from Lithuanian)
Depending on the terms of Kleiza’s contract with the Turkish team, it is possible the Toronto Raptors could have some rights to offset a portion of the $4.6 million they will be paying the Lithuanian star this season under the provisions of his amnesty waiver agreement. This would free up some additional cash for Toronto to sign another player.
Kleiza only appeared in 108 games for the Raptors over three seasons as a knee injury suffered during his first preseason with the team would eventually require surgery. Kleiza would often be listed as having a sore knee after playing and the big small forward would never regain the form he had shown with the Nuggets over his first four years in the NBA or the elite level of play witnessed while representing the Lithuanian National team immediately before coming to Toronto.
Like the Raptors Jorge Garbajosa who suffered a devastating leg injury in his first season with Toronto and eventually returned to Europe to finish his career, Kleiza should be able to revive his game in Turkey. Where Kleiza wasn’t able to demonstrate he could play an 82 game schedule in the NBA, he did play in enough games each season to demonstrate that he could still handle the lighter work load of playing professional basketball in Europe.
With enough days rest between games, Kleiza could recapture the stardom he enjoyed with Olympiakos during the 2009-2010 season and this could be a very positive move for the Turkish team in the upcoming season.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.
You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors