Linas Kleiza: ‘I want to go back to Toronto and prove myself’
"I just felt it was a good move by me to improve my career and improve as a player," Kleiza said of the year overseas. "I had a big role on a very big team, a very good team. That kind of helped improve all my skills and allow me to show what I wasn’t able to do in Denver.
"In Denver I was a role player and I did it pretty good," he said. "But coming back here and showing I could do a lot more things I’m not just that player that I was in Denver. That’s why I want to go back to Toronto and prove myself all over again. Show people that I was a better player than I was in Denver."
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Linas Kleiza can’t be worse than Hedo Turkoglu.
In July of 2009, the Toronto Raptors inked Turkoglu to a five-year, $53 million pact. The Canadian Dinosaurs were expecting a banner year from the Turkish swing.
What they got was something different: Turkoglu arrived at training camp out of shape; never bothered getting in shape; underperformed all year; behaved unprofessionally; and finally requested a trade this off-season.
Thankfully, GM Bryan Colangelo accommodated his request, shipping him to Phoenix for combo guard Leandro Barbosa.
Kleiza won’t have the same sense of entitlement. After a year in Greece, he’ll be hungry for regular minutes and will give a full effort when on-court.
Unfortunately for Kleiza, the Raptors are loaded at the swing spots. So he’ll compete with Barbosa, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, and Julian Wright for playing time at the two and three spots.
However, Kleiza has starred for Lithuania at the FIBA World Championship. For instance, he had 30 points and 9 rebounds in a Sweet 16 win against China.
And if Kleiza keeps having those kind of nights, minutes won’t be an issue in Toronto.
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