Nuggets Won't Match Offer Sheet for Linas Kleiza
"It was intimated to us that they won't match,'' Kleiza's agent, Bill Duffy, told FanHouse on Thursday night. "He's ecstatic.''
It became very likely the Nuggets wouldn't match by Friday's deadline when they agreed Tuesday night to sign forward Al Harrington to a five-year, $33.4 million contract. Duffy had told FanHouse that night, "I guess that takes them out of Kleiza.''
While there were some reports that having used its mid-level exception on Harrington eliminated the chances of Denver matching, those were incorrect. Because the Nuggets had Bird rights on Kleiza, they could have exceeded the salary cap to keep him.
However, Kleiza is due to make about $5 million next season in the front-loaded contract. With the Nuggets over the luxury-tax threshold, that would have been equivalent to them paying $10 million when the dollar-for-dollar tax is considered.
Besides, Harrington's signing filled a big need on the front line for the Nuggets, and they also signed a post player to a minimum deal this week in Shelden Williams.
Kleiza averaged 8.3 points while with the Nuggets from 2005-09 before playing last season in Greece with Olympiakos. He told FanHouse last week that he didn't want Denver to match the offer.
"I respect that organization,'' Duffy said of Denver. "But (Kleiza) felt very strongly about playing in Toronto. He's very excited. He loves the international dynamics of the team (Kleiza is from Lithuania), and will battle for a starting job (with Toronto small forward Hedo Turkoglu having been traded to Phoenix).''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@christomasson