Injured Linas Kleiza Denies Report of Incompetence by Toronto's Medical Staff
"I have no problems with Toronto's medical staff,'' Kleiza said in a phone interview with FanHouse from Vail, Colo., where he has remained since the surgery was performed by specialist Dr. Richard Steadman.
The report was by Sport25.gr, a Greek website in the nation where Kleiza played for Olympiakos for the 2009-10 season. Translated by TalkBasket.net, the report read in part that Kleiza "had been complaining to the Raptors' medical team for the past two months about excruciating pain in his right knee'' and that "the team's doctors ignored his pleas and insisted that it was nothing to worry about.''
The report read, "After having had just enough of his team medical team's criminal neglect, Kleiza made up his mind and told Raptors that he refused to play until the pain is completely gone.''
"I don't know where that came from,'' said Kleiza, who added that he didn't know about the report until being informed by FanHouse. "I haven't talked to anybody from Greece. ... I think everything was done (in an acceptable manner by Toronto's medical staff). I was talking to them all the time (about the knee injury).''
Kleiza said he originally hurt his right knee in the team's Oct. 6 preseason opener against Phoenix in Vancouver when a player fell on him. He said he doesn't know which player it was. Kleiza scored a game-high 20 points that night, and initially didn't think the injury was serious.
Kleiza played in 38 of Toronto's first 40 games. But then he said his knee started really bothering him in mid-January.
Kleiza sat out games Jan. 17 and Jan. 19 and returned Jan. 21 at Orlando, playing 23 minutes. But he said the knee then continued to hamper him and he hasn't played since.
Kleiza said he visited Steadman a few weeks ago for an initial consultation. He returned last week to Colorado, and it was decided to do the surgery.
"He's the best,'' Kleiza said of Dr. Steadman, who has worked on the knees of many NBA players, including having twice performed surgery on Denver forward Kenyon Martin, Kleiza's teammate with the Nuggets from 2005-09. "Everything went well. I feel good about it. It's going to take some time but I'll come back 100 percent.''
Kleiza said he could be ready for next season's opener.
"I believe the minimum (recovery) could be nine months,'' said Kleiza, who averaged 11.2 points in 39 Toronto games. "You don't know what is going to happen with the lockout (that could delay the start of 2011-12), but I believe I have a shot of playing at the start of next season (even if there's no lockout).''
Kleiza said he will return to Toronto early next week. He can't put pressure on his knee for eight weeks, and then will begin rehabilitation.
Kleiza signed a four-year, $18.8 million contract offer sheet with the Raptors last summer as a restricted free agent after playing his one season in Greece. The Nuggets opted not to match.
"Of course, it's good to have security,'' Kleiza said when asked if he feels relieved now he signed that NBA contract last summer rather than having picked up an option to play another season in Greece. "But that's life (getting injured). Injuries happen. All I can do is rehab and try to get better.''
As he prepares to begin that process, Kleiza insists all is fine with Toronto's medical staff.