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.