Raptors sign Linas Kleiza to multi-year deal

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The Toronto Raptors have announced that they have signed forward Linas Kleiza to a multi-year deal. The deal is believed to be worth approximately $19 million over four years. 

The 25-year old Kleiza was born in Lithuania, but played both his high school and college ball in America. Kleiza spent the first four years of his career with the Nuggets, where his versatility and consistency made him a solid rotation player. (He was also given the nickname “Suite 200,” which is also the name of a popular Denver nightclub.)
Kleiza spent the 09-10 season in Greece, where he had an absolutely fantastic year; Kleiza averaged 17.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and led the Euroleague in scoring. 
Kleiza’s Euroleague numbers make this look like a solid deal for the Raptors — remember that Josh Childress only averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in his first Greek League season. The question, of course, is whether Kleiza’s success in Greece indicates that he’s taken his play to another level or that his game is best suited for overseas competition. 
In any case, Kleiza is a reliable player who can give good minutes at either forward spot, and those guys are generally good to have around. My only concern for Toronto is that they should be looking to rebuild, and committing $20 million to a role player is usually not a part of a successful rebuilding process. Still, the Raptors didn’t give Kleiza crazy money, and there may be a chance that Kleiza can be the kind of player for Toronto that he was for Olympiacos. 

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.