Former Raptors forward Linas Kleiza told lrytas.lt - a Lithuanian media outlet – that he has no interest in returning to the NBA after being amnestied by Toronto this past July (hat tip to RealGM.com). The 6’8 forward now plays for Fenerbahçe Ülker of the Turkish Basketball League.
Here are some more news and notes from around the Eastern Conference:
- One source tells Ridiculous Upside’s Keith Schlosser that former NBA veteran Cliff Robinson has landed an assistant coaching job with the Springfield Armor of the NBDL, which serves as an affiliate with the Nets. The one-time All-Star’s 18-year playing career included stops in Portland, Phoenix, Detroit, Golden State, and most recently New Jersey.
- Hoopsworld’s Alex Kennedy looks at how the Nets have become a legitimate title contender after an offseason overhaul that brought in three former All-Stars in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Andrei Kirilenko to go with new head coach in Jason Kidd.
- Sam Amick of USA Today checked in with TNT’s Charles Barkley and Steve Kerr along with ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy to get their opinions on some of the biggest storylines of the upcoming season. As far as the East is concerned, Barkley views center Greg Oden as the key to the Heat’s quest for a third-consecutive title, Kerr predicts that the Bulls will unseat Miami in the playoffs, and Van Gundy thinks the jury’s still out as to how the new additions in South Beach could hurt or help the Heat.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post (via Twitter) notes that plenty of scouts are in attendance at tonight’s pre-season game between the Wizards and Knicks to get a look at potential cuts. With Knicks GM Steve Mills’ recent comments about lack of depth at center, Berman believes New York will certainly be scouting too.
So far this offseason, we haven't seen many NBA free agents sign with teams overseas, but that could change in the coming weeks, as NBA roster spots dry up. In many cases, a player's best chance at guaranteed money could come in Europe. Here are the latest updates and rumors on NBA players signing overseas:
- Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports confirms the Kleiza news below, tweeting that the ex-Raptors has signed a two-year contract with Fenerbahce Ulker to become one of the highest-paid players in Europe.
- According to various reports out of Turkey, Linas Kleiza and Fenerbahce Ulker have reached an agreement in principle on a lucrative two-year contract, as Uğur Türker of EuroBasket.com tweets. Kleiza was amnestied by the Raptors earlier this month, with reports at the time suggesting he was likely to return overseas.
- Former Cavs big man Samardo Samuels has officially reached an agreement with Italy's Olimpia Milano, the team announced on its website. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando provides an English translation of the club's press release.
- Carchia also reports that former Warrior and Sixer Charles Jenkins has agreed to terms with Red Star of Belgrade. Jenkins' agent, Misko Raznatovic, tweets that his client has yet to sign anything, but according to Carchia's source, the deal is done.
Let's round up a few Friday odds and ends from around the Association….
- After being amnestied by the Raptors, Linas Kleiza is drawing interest from several European teams, including CSKA Moscow, writes Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, passing along a report from Djordje Matic.
- Sam Amick of USA Today spoke to Andre Iguodala about his free agency, and some drama along the way related to the Kings and Nuggets.
- Keyon Dooling is receiving "serious interest" from two teams and will likely decide next week where he'll sign, tweets Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, who adds that a reunion with the Grizzlies is unlikely.
- There's nothing new on the Raja Bell front, tweets Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com, noting that the Knicks no longer have any interest in Bell after signing Metta World Peace. The Knicks remain in the market for a point guard and a big man though, says Zwerling.
- Tom Ziller of SBNation.com explains why he finds it unusual that the NBA decided to compensate the Thunder for a portion of Kevin Durant's contract.
- Multiple teams have inquired on undrafted free agent Khalif Wyatt, according to agent Stephen Pina. Wyatt played for the Sixers' Summer League squad in Orlando, but hasn't talked to Philadelphia yet about a more permanent contract (Twitter links via Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com).
Mike Miller has gone unclaimed on amnesty waivers and will now become an unrestricted free agent, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The same is true for Linas Kleiza, who also cleared waivers, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein (via Twitter). Miller and Kleiza were amnestied on Tuesday by the Heat and Raptors, respectively.
It's no surprise that Kleiza didn't draw any interest on amnesty waivers, given his health problems and poor production last season. As Stein notes, he's a good bet to return overseas for the coming season. On the other hand, the Cavaliers were reportedly considering a bid on Miller, but it appears the team decided against it.
Shortly after we heard that the Cavs were mulling a bid for Miller, another report indicated that the veteran sharpshooter is considering surgery to repair bulging disks in his back. Miller has hardly been a picture of good health over the last several seasons, so that's likely true, but it could also have been leaked to scare off non-contenders like the Cavs from making a claim. Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal notes (via Twitter) that Miller "made it clear to people around him" that he wasn't interested in landing in Cleveland.
Even with potential surgery looming, Miller figures to draw interest from contending teams. Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com both list the Spurs, Thunder, and Rockets as potential suitors, while Woj also mentions the Warriors and Windhorst names the Grizzlies (Twitter links).
The Raptors will use their amnesty provision on Linas Kleiza, the team officially announced today through a press release. We heard earlier that this move was to be expected, as the deadline for teams to use their amnesty clause for this season is tonight. Kleiza signed with Toronto as a free agent three years ago and appeared in 108 games for the Raptors, averaging 9.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game.
“We thank Linas for his contributions as a Raptor and wish him all the best,” Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said in the press release.
Kleiza will now be subject to the amnesty waiver process, where teams with cap room can put in a claim for his services over the next 48 hours. If no team bites, Kleiza becomes an unrestricted free agent and, as our earlier report indicates, will probably head overseas for the coming season. While this move won't clear any cap room for Toronto, it should allow the team to move below the tax threshold.
Today is the last day teams are eligible to use their amnesty clause until next summer, and at least one club is expected to make a move before tonight's deadline. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Raptors plan to amnesty Linas Kleiza, and that Kleiza is a good bet to head overseas for the coming season.
Heading into the offseason, the Raptors only had three amnesty-eligible players: Kleiza, Andrea Bargnani, and Amir Johnson. The former two were both viewed as potential amnesty candidates, but new head of basketball operations Masai Ujiri managed to send Bargnani to New York in a deal that netted the Raptors a first-round pick.
Kleiza, 28, missed a good chunk of the 2012/13 season with injuries, and wasn't effective in the 20 games he played, setting career-lows in PER (8.2) and FG% (.333). The Lithiuanian forward played for Olympiacos in Greece prior to joining the Raptors in 2010, and figures to draw more interest from European teams than he will from other NBA clubs.
Because Kleiza was owed just $4.6MM in 2013/14, there was speculation that the Raptors would simply hang on to him, perhaps to use his expiring contract as a trade chip before next year's deadline. Amnestying Kleiza won't clear any cap room for the Raps, but it should allow the team to move below the tax threshold.
A year ago, the biggest unrestricted free agent on the open market, Deron Williams, made his decision to sign with the Nets on July 3rd. A year later, the two biggest free agents available are Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Paul quickly agreed to re-sign with the Clippers, while Howard is visiting with the Mavericks and Lakers today after meeting with the Rockets, Warriors, and Hawks earlier in the week.
Will Howard follow in D-Will's footsteps and make a decision on the 3rd, once his meetings are finished? We'll have to wait to find out, but in the meantime, let's round up a few odds and ends from around the Association….
- In examining potential free agent targets for the Bucks, Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times says to keep an eye on Carl Landry and Devin Harris, who both told Woelfel recently that they'd be open to playing in Milwaukee.
- Woelfel adds in a tweet that the Bucks appear to be eyeing former Pacers GM David Morway as a potential assistant GM in Milwaukee.
- As Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes, tanking hasn't exactly worked for the Celtics in the past, so it may not be the best approach for the 2013/14 team either.
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star says there's a belief Raptors GM Masai Ujiri may not use the amnesty provision later this month, in order to keep Linas Kleiza's expiring contract around for trade purposes.
- Writing for The Basketball Jones, Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com explains why the Andrea Bargnani trade looks much better for the Raptors than the Knicks.
- Because the Suns decided not to release P.J. Tucker yesterday and the Clippers held on to Willie Green, both players' contracts have become fully guaranteed for the 2013/14 season, per ShamSports.com.
- Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com examines some of the Lakers' free agent targets, attempting to determine which possibilities are more realistic than others.
- The NBA players' union has filed a motion to dismiss Billy Hunter's lawsuit against the NBPA, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
One ex-Raptor and two current Raps have opted in for the 2013/14 season, tweets Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com. According to RealGM's transactions log, Charlie Villanueva, Linas Kleiza, and Aaron Gray all picked up their '13/14 player options on May 13th.
None of the decisions come as any surprise, given the production the three players provided on the court compared to the salaries they're now in line to earn next season. Villanueva had confirmed earlier in the season that he'd exercise his option, worth $8.58MM. In 69 games with the Pistons this season, Villanueva established career-lows in PPG (6.8), FG% (.377), and PER (14.0), among other categories.
The Raptors duo won't be quite as expensive as Villanueva, as Kleiza's option is worth $4.6MM, while Gray's is worth about $2.69MM. Gray appeared in 42 games for Toronto this season, starting 16 of them, and averaged 2.8 PPG and 3.2 RPG. Kleiza played in just 20 contests for the Raps, missing time with a knee injury and then not getting back into the lineup even when he was healthy.
While all three players are now set to become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2014, free agency could come earlier for Villanueva and Kleiza. The Pistons and Raptors both still have the amensty provision available, and Villanueva and Kleiza represent the top amnesty candidates for their respective clubs.
The Celtics are in the market for a free agent big man, and we heard this morning that the club is considering signing D.J. White to a 10-day contract. White isn't the only player Boston has its eye on, however. According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Jerome Jordan, Tim Ohlbrecht, Shavlik Randolph, and Louis Amundson are among the other players being considered by the Celtics.
Here are a few more post-trade-deadline notes out of the Atlantic Division:
- 76ers GM Tony DiLeo spoke to the media about acquiring Charles Jenkins in what he calls a "no-risk" move, and said that he talked to every NBA team about potential trades before the deadline (video link via NBA.com).
- As Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News tweets, DiLeo also said that re-signing Andrew Bynum remains "Plan A" for the Sixers, but that the team's cap flexibility allows for "Plan B"s as well.
- Knicks GM Glen Grunwald told ESPN Radio that the Knicks had "a number of inquiries" on Iman Shumpert, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com.
- While Nets fans may be disappointed that the club couldn't land Josh Smith yesterday, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post thinks hanging on to assets will benefit the team in the long run.
- Although a Lithuanian report suggested that injury woes could put Linas Kleiza's career in jeopardy, the forward told reporters today that's not true, and that he expects to return soon (Twitter link via Holly MacKenzie of Sportsnet).
We've already rounded up a number of Celtics rumors this morning, but there's plenty happening around the rest of the Atlantic Division as well. Let's dive in….
- Celtics president Danny Ainge and Knicks coach Mike Woodson both downplayed the possibility of their respectives teams making a trade this week, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com and Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter links).
- If the Celtics get into a position where they need a roster spot, they may waive Leandro Barbosa, tweets Blakely. Barbosa would still receive his full salary in that case. For now, the C's have some flexibility — even with Terrence Williams on the roster, the club still has an open roster spot.
- Nets GM Billy King told reporters, including Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link), that there's a 10% chance the Nets will make a trade this week. I'd probably put the odds higher than that, but I suppose he'd know better than I would.
- The Sixers are exploring a few trade avenues, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see them stand pat at the deadline, says John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I don't see anything for us right now," coach Doug Collins said. "If something happens for us right now, I think it would be something that would be very small. [GM] Tony [DiLeo] is on the phone, but I don't think there is anything major that is going to turn our season around. What would be major for us would be to get our guys healthy."
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun doesn't expect the Raptors to find a taker for Linas Kleiza, who figures to be an amnesty candidate this July (Twitter link).
- Terrence Williams' 10-day contract with the Celtics could be beneficial for both the player and the team, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.