Going to Europe is a surefire way to drop off the NBA fan radar for a bit, but don’t think for a second that teams have forgotten about Linas Kleiza.
We haven’t seen Kleiza play stateside since the 2009 playoffs, but there’s a possibility he’ll make his return to the NBA next season through restricted free agency this summer. Everything is still very tentative, even at this stage; according to Lithuania Basketball, Linas is still weighing his options and determining whether a return to the NBA now is in his best interest:
Linas Kleiza arrived in the United States to wait for news about his future just before the start of the NBA free agency. Despite numerous Greek media reports about the Lithuanian player staying in Olympiacos Piraeus, there is a possibility that he will be returning to play basketball in NBA. “It’s split at 50-50 on whether I’ll play in Greece or return to NBA,” Kleiza told the Lietuvos Rytas daily. [The] Denver Nuggets have confirmed that they would like to see the forward in their jersey for next year, but the the financial terms of the offer weren’t revealed. It’s also not clear if any other club would like to also bid for the player.
If Kleiza commits to a return, it’s likely that he’ll receive a number of offers. Linas is quite a handful for a combo forward, as he’s capable of being both a physical slasher and a decent outside shooter. Either way, he plays an aggressive brand of ball that makes him valuable and endearing to his teammates.
As noted in the report, the Nuggets are the obvious favorite to (re-)sign Kleiza should he return to the NBA, and they’ll have the right to match any offer sheet Linas signs. That means another team will have to overpay Kleiza for the chance to lure him away, and while that offer may not match the $6ish million he’d make overseas, it could be competitive enough to entice him back to the L, regardless of whether the Nuggets choose to match.
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.
Bill Bridges, a star as a Kansas Jayhawk who went on to have a 12-year NBA career that included being part of the 1975 Golden State Warriors championship team, has passed away, according to the University of Kansas.
Bridges was an undersized power forward at 6’6″ but he was a beast on the boards who averaged 11.9 rebounds a game for his career and more than 13 a game for six straight years at the peak of his career. That 11.9 per game average is still 27th all-time in NBA history.
A New Mexico native, Bridges was a three-time All-Star (all as a member of the Hawks), two-time All-NBA Defensive team, and was part of the 1975 Warriors title team. Besides the Hawks (St. Louis and Atlanta) and Warriors, Bridges played for the Sixers and Lakers.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.