Career Stats: 340 GP, 19.9 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 44.7 FG%, 33.6 3PT%, 75.2 FT%, 3.6 RPG, 0.8 APG

Season Stats: 39 GP (23 starts), 26.5 MPG, 11.2 PPG, 43.8 FG%, 29.8 3PT%, 63.1 FT%, 4.5 RPG, 1 APG

When Linas Kleiza led Lithuania to a bronze medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and garnered an All-Tournament team selection in the process, many felt that the Raptors may have made the biggest under-the-radar splash of the summer by signing Kleiza to a four-year contract.

Then the Raptors’ season started, and Toronto quickly realized that Linas Kleiza was nowhere near being an All-World player.

Kleiza was supposed to be one of the primary scoring options for the young Raptors, but his offensive game was wildly inconsistent all season. He would have some good stretches and some awful stretches through the first few months of the season, but ultimately, he was usually somewhere in the middle – an area we like to call “mediocre.”

At just under $5 million per season, Kleiza didn’t need to set the world on fire to prove he belonged or prove he deserved his contract, but he did need too do a lot more than what he actually accomplished in his injury-shortened first season with the Raptors.

The Raptors didn’t necessarily need him to score 15-20 points per game, but if he was going to toil around 10 points per game, then they definitely needed him to do more than just score. And therein lies the other issue: Kleiza didn’t defend well enough, rebound well enough or share the ball well enough to make up for his inconsistent and less than stellar offense.

To make matters worse, Kleiza underwent dreaded microfracture surgery in February to repair his damaged right knee. Recovery time from microfracture surgery is usually nine-to-12 months, so there’s a good chance Kleiza won’t even be ready to play until well into next season (assuming there is a next season).

An eternal optimist might look at things and assume that knee problems are what limited Kleiza’s first season in Toronto, and that the Lithuanian star will break out in year two. A realist would assess the situation and realize that after microfracture surgery, we may have already seen Kleiza’s best season in Toronto, and now the Raptors are on the hook for another three years at just under $14 million (assuming Kleiza picks up his $4.6 million player option in 2013-14) heading into uncertain economic times in the NBA.

The one thing Kleiza has going for him, like many of the current Raptors, is youth. He’s still only 26 years old, so there is the possibility of him coming back stronger from surgery and contributing to the Raptors rebuilding process.

It’s just hard for me to see the positives in a guy who shot the ball horribly, still hogged the ball despite his struggles, didn’t really defend and barely rebounded.

Linas Kleiza does not fall into the group of guys I would want to keep going forward, but I also understand that there won’t be a long list of teams lining up to take his contract on either, so we may be stuck with him for the next little while.

Scott Carefoot’s take on Linas Kleiza: I hoped that Bryan Colangelo had learned his lesson about overpaying role players from the disastrous Jason Kapono signing, but the initial return on Kleiza with the Raptors indicates that may not be the case. There have been brief stretches in Kleiza’s career (such as the FIBA tournament and his 2009 playoff run with the Nuggets) when he has shown that he can contribute at a fairly high level. Unfortunately, his three-point shooting percentage and free throw percentage have declined in each of his past three NBA seasons so it could be that this is as good as he’ll ever be. If he doesn’t return and show substantial improvement on his shooting and defense, Kleiza will likely spend the remaining three years on his contract at the end of the bench collecting dust — and about $14 million.

Our next player evaluation post will be the last in this series, with a duo-post on Sonny Weems and Julian Wright coming later this week.

Comments (15)

  1. Sounds like a potential amnesty casualty if the league approves it with the new CBA.

  2. Kleiza was 1 of 2 (Bargnani) guaranteed preseason Raptor starters as per BC & Jay based on his recent FIBA play.lmfao

    BC’s big free agent signing last off season was a dude just like Turk before him.

    He has no role in the Rap’s future- see ya, amnesty or just buy Kleiza out!!

    BC + Jay =’s Dumb & Dumber

  3. Can’t argue with anything you said; we had high hopes, they were dashed, and injury doesn’t seem to excuse everything. It isn’t like this is Elton Brand and we all hope he comes back to a reasonable version of his healthy self: a healthy Kleiza is still just Linas Kleiza, who quickly became my least-favourite Raptor early last season. When the guy you signed only a year ago is the prime candidate for a potential amnesty waiving…ouch.

  4. Klieza is a real Baller! he did good work in Denver and great work in europ league. the raptors did a real bad job of coaching him. Its the same situation with Turk. Turk is not a spot up shooter. you cant just stick him in a corner to wait for the ball, thats not his game, The raptors didnt put Klieza in the best situation for his game and his productivity suffered as a result.
    when the raps get a real coach for next year thats when we can effectivly judge Klieza

  5. Go damn, or God amn: You should watch the games….your missed analysis isn’t worth discussing….

    I still have hopes for Kleiza. He’s young and he was hurt. He can earn a $4 mil contract.

  6. Is there anyone out there noting that – mathematically in this blog – every single white player in the team has got nothing else than flaws, and sins, and everything, and he gets too much money, and ruins the chemistry, and has just to go, while any other single afro player has all of the certificated qualities available on earth (work ethic first, no doubt, and the right attitude, and he’s just developing, and bla bla bla bla)? Is there anyone there still believing these statements can be considered as balanced, equilibrated and honest? Even knowing who are the kind of people you direct to, I can’t help that saying (not for the first time): buffoons!

  7. @ C.d.G.

    well if the shoe fits…
    I mean no offence but what your trying to suggest is completely wrong it may be ironic but yeah.

  8. @C.d.G. for the very last time:

    Fact: The most hated Raptor of all time is Vince Carter.
    Fact: Sam Mitchell was criticized more than Triano, and most fans would take Sam Presti as GM in a heartbeat or a coach like Jeff Van Gundy or Adelman, if that was possible.
    Fact: 99% of Raptors fan would have loved to have Ginobli or Nowitzki or Nash on this team, to name a few.
    Fact: The fact the white players on this team either stink or are not worth their contracts has nothing to do with how most of us view other players. I’m pretty sure Ajinca is not white and who exactly is praising him?
    Fact: Many if not most of the fans criticizing these players are white themselves.

    Fact: This one’s important, idiot, so pay attention. You’re the only person obsessed with race who posts on this board. Almost every post I’ve seen of yours obsesses with race, and nobody that I’ve seen has ever expressed one iota of agreement with you. Why don’t you do yourself and the rest of us a favour and go follow some other team?

  9. international players r not cutting the chase for this raptors squad id love 2 c the rapts draft brandon knight this year or drafting alec burkes then move derozen the the 3 spot and draft kabongo the year after

  10. Yes, and upon their departures, Chris Bosh, Jermaine O, TJ Ford, Jarret Jack….were all roundly criticized solely because they were white. On the other hand, Matt Bonner continues to be loved by Raps fans because he was black. CdG: the astuteness of your observations is surpassed only by your sublime command of the English language. Bravo, sir, bravo.

  11. Dribbles,
    1 – go say “idiot” to your mother.
    2 – one fact: most of the fans criticizing white players are white. So what? It’s just another evidence you guys are in p.c. confusion.

    SR,
    1 – maybe it’s because english is not my own language? Would you like to answer in German or Greek?
    2 – the astutness of my observations are clearly beyond your (and others) reach.

  12. Dribbles and SR., you’re both absolutely right – but there’s no point arguing with C.d.G.; he is cleary a troll, and not worth responding to. In his sad little world, there’s a conspiracy (by white people) amongst Raptor fans to praise black athletes and demonize white ones. Uh, okay….whatever you say, buddy.

  13. race is not an issue on this rapter team its just the fact that international players like biyambo and perhaps jan veesly r too big of a gamble just because there have been too many instances where internationl players r picked in the lottery and turn out to be terrible players sure u may get the lucky and rare dirks or ginobilies but its just too risky examples?: darko mlilic , andrea bargnani ,Zarko Cabarkapa ,ect

  14. Tyrone – I was hoping for something more interesting from CdG, that’s all. Anyway, you can’t always get what you want.

  15. SR – Fair enough; no criticism of you or your judgment was intended. If anyone knows that you can’t always get what you want, it is us long-suffering Raps fans…

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