Raptors sign small forward

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:08 PM ET

TORONTO -- When Bryan Colangelo wants a player he isn't afraid to pay up to get him.

The Raptors have signed forward Linas Kleiza to a four-year, $20-million U.S. offer sheet.

The Denver Nuggets -- who own Kleiza's rights even though he most recently played in Greece -- now have seven days to match the offer. It is highly unlikely they will do so.

Kleiza, a 6-foot-8, 245 pound small forward with a nice shooting touch, is a productive player who Colangelo hoped to acquire last season. Kleiza can play the three and four, and even spot minutes at shooting guard in a pinch.

He is an aggressive, chippy player in the mold of ex-Raptor Jorge Garbajosa.

Kleiza spent three seasons with Denver after being acquired in a draft night deal for Jarrett Jack, averaging 8.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in 19 minutes per game.

The Lithuanian spent last season with Olympiacos Piraeus in Greece averaging a Euroleague high 17 points a night, along with seven rebounds.

He notched a career-best 41 points during the 2007-08 season and was outstanding in Denver's short, four-game playoff that year, averaging 14 points and 6 rebounds on 54% shooting.

It is unclear how Kleiza will fit in with the Raptors unless further moves are made.

Small forward Hedo Turkoglu is expected to have an increased role, unless the Raptors somehow find a way to move his brutal deal, and another swingman, Sonny Weems, is also expected to see heavy minutes following a breakout final two months of 2009-10.


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