The Toronto Raptors have announced that they have signed forward Linas Kleiza to a multi-year deal. The deal is believed to be worth approximately $19 million over four years.
The 25-year old Kleiza was born in Lithuania, but played both his high school and college ball in America. Kleiza spent the first four years of his career with the Nuggets, where his versatility and consistency made him a solid rotation player. (He was also given the nickname “Suite 200,” which is also the name of a popular Denver nightclub.)
Kleiza spent the 09-10 season in Greece, where he had an absolutely fantastic year; Kleiza averaged 17.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and led the Euroleague in scoring.
Kleiza’s Euroleague numbers make this look like a solid deal for the Raptors — remember that Josh Childress only averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in his first Greek League season. The question, of course, is whether Kleiza’s success in Greece indicates that he’s taken his play to another level or that his game is best suited for overseas competition.
In any case, Kleiza is a reliable player who can give good minutes at either forward spot, and those guys are generally good to have around. My only concern for Toronto is that they should be looking to rebuild, and committing $20 million to a role player is usually not a part of a successful rebuilding process. Still, the Raptors didn’t give Kleiza crazy money, and there may be a chance that Kleiza can be the kind of player for Toronto that he was for Olympiacos.