Raptors Rumors: Linas Kleiza Trades NBA For Europe After Toronto Amnesty As LA Lakers, NY Knicks, Clippers, Thunder, Grizzlies Could Use Forward For Depth

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Jul 19, 2013 03:55 PM EDT
Toronto Raptors forward Linas Kleiza
Toronto Raptors forward Linas Kleiza makes a pass past Orlando Magic forward Nikola Vucevic (R) during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto December 21, 2012."

The Toronto Raptors made some interesting signings this offseason with forward Tyler Hansbrough and point guard Dwight Buycks and to make room for those moves and the future, GM Masai Ujiri decided to use the amnesty clause on forward.

According to Pro Basketball Talk, Kleiza is now an unrestricted free agent that can sign with any team, but he said that he now will likely go to Europe to continue playing professional ball. Kleiza previously played for Greek power Olympiacos and never was able to get consistent playing time with the Raptors and now he will likely bolt the NBA, although the team still owes him $4.6 million.

Kleiza said that part of the reason for leaving has to do with losing and that he wants to play for a winner and he still could do that in the NBA, as the LA Lakers, NY Knicks, Clippers, Thunder and Grizzlies all could use some added depth in the front court. The 28-year-old exercised his option for next season and that is why Ujiri decided to use the amnesty clause on him. During his career, Kleiza played in 108 games and last season he appeared in 20 and put up averages of 7.4 points and 2.6 rebounds points per game.

Last season the team went 34-48 and averaged just over 97 points per game, ranking 16th in the league and they ranked 17th in points allowed per game with just over 98. The Raptors have made some major moves this offseason, including with the trade of Andrea Bargnani and the signing of Hansbrough. When Ujiri arrived everyone felt the biggest issue with the Raptors was trading away the contract of the former number one overall pick and just like he pulled off the Carmelo Anthony deal to the Knicks, he sent another star to New York in Bargnani. The former top pick never got into a groove in Toronto and now the franchise can move on as they keep or flip the assets of that trade in Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-round pick and second-rounders in 2014 and 2017.

Last season Bargnani averaged just 12.7 points on 40 percent shooting and missed 47 games and now he says he is healthy and the Knicks will offer him a fresh start. Hansbrough offers some depth on the roster as well after he starred with the Pacers, averaging 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in 246 games. Hansbrough signed a multi-year deal with the Raptors and the team also is ready to deal Camby, who said he doesn't want to play there, to a contender like the Clippers, Lakers, Thunder, Rockets or Warriors.

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