Monday, June 29, 2009

Nuggets will extend qualifying offer to Kleiza

Some of the final pieces of preparation for free agency for the Nuggets will fall into place in the next couple of days, before teams can start negotiating with free agents on July 1. The Nuggets are expected to extend a qualifying contract offer to forward Linas Kleiza, which would mean roughly $2.7 million for him for one season, and the Nuggets retain his restricted free agent status. Kleiza’s stats were down across the board last season after a promising 2007-08 campaign when it appeared he was one of the NBA’s rising stars.

Kleiza picked up his effort in the playoffs, though, playing some big-time minutes to help the Nuggets advance to, and stay competitive in, the Western Conference Finals. His playoffs field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage were all up over his season averages.

Kleiza is seeking a multi-year extension, which he may or may not get as a result of his play last season and the current tough economy. The Nuggets have a chance to match any team that signs him to an offer sheet. Or, Kleiza could decide to play next season with the Nuggets under the one-year qualifying contract and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are not expected to extend a qualifying contract offer to center Johan Petro, which would make him an unrestricted free agent.

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