After another season of barely playing any basketball, Linas Kleiza seems to have run out of NBA credits, and will be amnestied by the Toronto Raptors, which will presumably send the Lithuanian forward back to Europe.
Since joining the Raptors in 2010, Kleiza has played in only 108 games for the team, including 20 last season, averaging 7.4 points per game. With his deal for next season, his last, worth $4.6 million, the Raptors need to clear some space in order to avoid the luxury tax.
After signing Tyler Hansbrough on a two-year, $5 million deal, they went over the threshold. Releasing Kleiza may give them a chance finalize the deal with point guard Julyan Stone.
While Kleiza’s career with the Raptors (his second NBA team after spending one excellent season in Greece after four years with the Nuggets) had a fine start to it, averaging 11.2 points per game, he had a serious meniscal tear in his right knee that ended his season in January 2011. Since then, his time and production on the floor have severely dropped.
The Raptors being this high up the salary scale without anything to show for it means someone has been doing a lot of bad deals over the last few years. Playoff next season? Hard to believe, even though their starting lineup last season, after Calderon was dealt to the Detroit and the arrival of Rudy Gay was one of the most effective and efficient in the NBA.
However, it’s hard to believe that a team with so many depth problems can find itself in the playoffs next season, even in the top-heavy East which usually has an opening for a sub .500 team to get in each year. There’s a better chance of the Raptros trying to move Rudy Gay’s contract (with $37 million left on it for the next two years) than trying to build a team around him.