Victor Claver To Play In Russia

SUNDAY, 8:45am: Khimki Moscow confirms that it has signed Claver through the end of the season.

FRIDAY, 10:45am: Former Trail Blazers forward Victor Claver will sign with Russia’s Khimki Moscow, agent Arn Tellem tells David Pick of (Twitter link). Chema de Lucas of Gigantes Del Basket reported earlier today that the deal was close. He’ll replace Joffrey Lauvergne, who left the club a few weeks ago to sign a three-year deal with the Nuggets, Lucas writes. Coincidentally, Claver passed through the hands of the Nuggets last week, having gone to Denver in the Arron Afflalo trade before Denver released him this past weekend. Claver’s new deal runs until season’s end, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia, though it’s unclear if it includes an NBA escape clause (Twitter link).

It’s somewhat surprising to see the 26-year-old head to Moscow, since he was reportedly prioritizing an NBA deal, even if it had to be a 10-day contract, and it appeared too late in the season for him to head back to Europe, where he’d made his mark before joining Portland in 2012. Still, there were rumors dating back to last season that a return overseas was a distinct possibility, though Claver said in late 2013 that he wasn’t thinking about going back to Europe. Earlier this season, he denied a report that he had requested a trade from the Blazers. Portland cut his playing time from 16.6 minutes per game as a rookie to 7.6 MPG this season.

The Blazers made Claver the 22nd overall pick of the 2009 draft, but he remained overseas for three years before signing. He’s drawing an NBA salary of $1.37MM this season, a figure that sticks on Denver’s books, though the Nuggets could recoup some of that through set-off rights if by chance Claver’s Russian deal gives him more than $816,482.

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