Linas Kleiza Agrees to Deal With Olympiakos

The Denver Post is reporting that Linas Kleiza will sign a two year, $12 million contract with Greek team Olympiakos.  (Update: The contract is reportedly for $12.2 million and does have an opt out after one season.)

I cannot blame Kleiza because no NBA team was willing to pay him nearly that much, but as I pointed out previously, it only delays his restricted free agency to next summer, assuming he triggers his opt out clause after the first year of the contract.

Whether you love Kleiza or hate him, you have to admit that this hurts the Nuggets’ depth.  I have no problem with Renaldo Balkman backing up Carmelo at small forward as an offense/defense combo like J.R. Smith and Dahntay Jones last season at shooting guard.  Plus Balkman can fill in at power forward as Kleiza did when necessary.

Kleiza’s departure also saves the Nuggets an additional $5.4 million in luxury tax and salary and opens up another roster spot.  I am sure the Nuggets would have preferred to have Kleiza to sign the qualifying offer, but with the trade of Steven Hunter and now Kleiza heading to Greece, Denver has saved almost $10 million in salary and tax payments, which is significant.

Assuming Anthony Carter returns the Nuggets now have to add two players to their regular season roster in order to field the minimum 13 players.

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  • eric.yates

    Someone get Bonzi Wells agent on the phone, stat.

  • Nuggets4

    I understand that it hurts our depth in theory, but I firmly believe that LK is worse than a “replacement level player”. If he were a baseball player, LK would have a negative VORP (Value Over Replacement Player for those who don’t know). We’re BETTER by signing some D-League player to fill his slot.

    I’m so happy right now.

  • Alan15

    Jeremy, any ideas as to who these other two roster spots may be filled by?

  • Stumbleweed

    See ya, chucker. At least the Euro line is a little closer so you can get your 3PT% up to 36 or so.

    The only thing I’ll miss is his ability to run the break and rebound from the 3 spot. On the upside, I really think Renaldo helps our team this year… he’s kind of been the forgotten man in all this off-season talk. Remember those stretches when K-Mart was out and he come in and put up double-doubles like clockwork? He’s just a hustle machine, the exact opposite of Kleiza.

    Hopefully George will give him minutes at backup SF instead of just PF (he said he didn’t know the plays from SF last year), because he’s very versatile and is better at defending the elite 3s in the league than almost anyone. We definitely need another scoring 3/4 off the bench, but this makes offering someone $5 mil or so a lot more palatable to the ownership. Renaldo does more than LK in every facet of the game except shooting, and frankly, we don’t need someone who shot a measly 34% from deep as a ‘designated shooter’.

    Make ‘Naldo the designated defender of big scorers (he can even handle Kobe well) and make sure that he’s out there with at least 2 scorers (JR, Melo, Billups, Nene) most of the time and our bench will be fine. We lose some spacing with Kleiza gone, but if Lawson and Afflalo are playing at the 1/2, we still have more spacing than with our bench last year because both are much better shooters than AC. And who knows, maybe Renaldo will get a nice jumper going — our assistant coaches have shown the ability to give people a 3PT shot seemingly out of nowhere (Najera), so let’s hope that Renaldo can up his skills in that area and not be a total liability on offense.

  • abs

    So now what? The Nuggets need three more players minimum, and now have holes at SF, where Balkman is the only option after Melo, and PF/C, where the Nuggets only have Birdman and Malik-I-couldn’t-get-playing-time-with-the-Bucks-Allen. Assuming the re-sign Cater and keep Coby Karl, that still leaves one to three spots. The only summer league guys they have worth even a look are CJ Giles and Derrick Byars, and neither one will strike much fear into anyone. While it would only be a 13th guy, with an injury to a forward, they are in big trouble having Allen, Balkman and someone like Giles their only F backups.

    So do they pick anyone up? Of course, there is Davvid Lee, but no one seems to think the Nuggets will pay for him. Maybe Joe Smith, who has been here before and should be fairly cheap? Or Powe, hoping he can be back in time to contribute? Maybe take a chance on Aaron Gray? Not much else in bigs left, other than D-grade guys like the Swifts (Robert and Stromile), Moore, Mihm, Simmons, and the Collins twins. Maybe bring back Petro, or even Howard, but neither guy was much good when here. As for small forward, not much there either. I guess maybe Stackhouse, but he’s more a SG. Rodney Carney? He’s young and talented, but is kindof similar to Balkman. Maybe Gerald Green? He’s listed as a SG, but he’s 6’8″. What about trades? Anyone they could get with their limited assets?

    Help me out, any chance we get a difference-maker still this off-season?

  • Nuggets4

    We won’t get a difference maker. Anyone who had stars in their eyes heading into this off-season was dreaming. Grant Hill was about the “biggest” name we could have gotten. We’re cutting payroll. Kroenke is tired of spending money. It’s the same reason we haven’t used the many trade exemptions.

    That said, I’d rather us use the last three spots on AC and two D-League players — a big & a wing. Young, hungry, let them earn it. It’d be better than signing a retread like Ben Wallace.

  • runningdonut

    Sign Novak

  • king_couttsy

    Any thoughts on Wally Szczerbiak?

    Much better shooter, plays defense at the same level (read: zero), doesn’t rebound as well, but certainly plays within the system and doesn’t try to do things he can’t do.

    Other than that, I think it’s going to be tough to fill the roster with any player who can make a difference.

    Sign Coby Karl (and to hell with the perceived nepotism of doing so). Sign AC (again!). See if there’s any big lump of a man who will play for the minimum and sign him. Hell, maybe sign a couple – 6 more fouls is always helpful!

    I have this awful feeling we’ve taken a big step backwards.

  • KC Gunner

    How about a movement for Rod “Boom Tho” Benson, of D-League and Yahoo! blogging fame? I believe he’s 6’10” and put up some made rebounding #s in the D-League.