Jul 1, 2010, 12:28 PM EDT
Going to Europe is a surefire way to drop off the NBA fan radar for a bit, but don’t think for a second that teams have forgotten about Linas Kleiza.
We haven’t seen Kleiza play stateside since the 2009 playoffs, but there’s a possibility he’ll make his return to the NBA next season through restricted free agency this summer. Everything is still very tentative, even at this stage; according to Lithuania Basketball, Linas is still weighing his options and determining whether a return to the NBA now is in his best interest:
Linas Kleiza arrived in the United States to wait for news about his future just before the start of the NBA free agency. Despite numerous Greek media reports about the Lithuanian player staying in Olympiacos Piraeus, there is a possibility that he will be returning to play basketball in NBA. “It’s split at 50-50 on whether I’ll play in Greece or return to NBA,” Kleiza told the Lietuvos Rytas daily. [The] Denver Nuggets have confirmed that they would like to see the forward in their jersey for next year, but the the financial terms of the offer weren’t revealed. It’s also not clear if any other club would like to also bid for the player.
If Kleiza commits to a return, it’s likely that he’ll receive a number of offers. Linas is quite a handful for a combo forward, as he’s capable of being both a physical slasher and a decent outside shooter. Either way, he plays an aggressive brand of ball that makes him valuable and endearing to his teammates.
As noted in the report, the Nuggets are the obvious favorite to (re-)sign Kleiza should he return to the NBA, and they’ll have the right to match any offer sheet Linas signs. That means another team will have to overpay Kleiza for the chance to lure him away, and while that offer may not match the $6ish million he’d make overseas, it could be competitive enough to entice him back to the L, regardless of whether the Nuggets choose to match.
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