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Wednesday , Sep , 08 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

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."

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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.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Thursday , Jul , 08 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kleiza offer sheet latest example of Colangelo and Raptors’ flawed vision

The Raptors have signed Nuggets restricted free agent forward Linas Kleiza to a four-year, $20 million offer sheet, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Gee, get the impression Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo is desperate?

The former golden boy of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will either get nothing or Mario Chalmers and a trade exception - which is pretty close to nothing - from the Miami Heat for superstar Chris Bosh.

Instead of regrouping and developing a cohesive plan, instead of laying out a clear vision going forward for the Raptors, Colangelo is doing the opposite. He’s reacting.

Case in point: today’s news the organization is tendering a pretty fair contract to restricted free agent Linas Kleiza, a skilled Euro’ scorer, who believes he is above getting down-and-dirty on defense.

Haven’t the Raptors seen this song and dance before? Don’t they already have a couple of finesse swings who believe getting-stops is for the hired help?

So what’s Colangelo thinking? Simply put, he's not.

For years, there’s been a serious disconnect between the style the Raptors want to play and the skill-set their players have. And this is the two-time Executive of the Year’s fault.

For instance, the club has talked publicly of wanting to be a get-stops, defensive-minded club. This was Sam Mitchell’s mandate. Ditto for Jay Triano.

However, Colangelo too often drafts, signs, or trades for soft foreigners, who simply can’t get it done in their own end. His go-to is the skilled Euro from a tiny, unpronounceable republic across the Atlantic Ocean.

Last year, the club started Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, and Hedo Turkoglu. All are skilled Europeans. All are below average defenders.

Kleiza is a nice player, but more of the same for Toronto, which is a problem.

It’s time for Colangelo to start thinking clearly. Or it’s time for him to follow Bosh out the door.   
 
--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.