Potential trades and Kleiza's rights

Linas Kleiza has been absent from the Denver Nuggets and Lodo's bar scene for  3 months now, opting instead for getting trashed in Greece and moneybags full of Euros (Eurobags?).

Denver whittled away lots of trade assets in offseason moves, including most of their upcoming draft picks and even the rights to unsigned draft pick Axel Hervelle. Most of the tradable contracts are minimum deals and not of much value, so fans have been speculating on potential trades involving Kleiza's rights. From my understanding of the CBA and consulting with some more knowledgable heads on the subject, it seems clear to me now that Kleiza's rights or LK himself can't be traded for the forseeable future (while he is under contract), and even after that moving him remains kind of a headache.

Mark at ShamSports knows whats up, he clarified it for me and on a previous message board post a while ago. Here's what he said

No they can't.

Kleiza can be signed and traded (if he's not under contract somewhere, that is), and the Nuggets can match any offer sheet he gets as he's still a RFA. But they can't trade his Bird rights. You can't trade anyone's Bird rights. Never could.

Read the whole post here if you don't believe me

The same problem exists with Josh Childress' signing in Greece 2 years ago.  Both he and Kleiza are still restricted free agents, with their rights held by Atlanta and Denver respectively. That means they can only be signed and traded or signed to offer sheets once they are no longer under contract in Europe. The Nuggets could match any offer for Kleiza, they could sign and trade him to someone if he were not currently under contract. Kleiza has an opt-out after 1 year in Greece, so if he wants to return to the NBA Denver could re-sign him then or sign and trade him to another team. Or, he could sign an offer sheet with another team, and Denver would have seven days to match. None of this can happen until he terminates his contract in Europe though.

Josh Childress tried to return to the NBA after 1 year in Greece. Both Cleveland and Milwaukee wanted to sign Childress, but it didn't work out for several important reasons which are relevant to LK's situation now. Milwaukee and Cleveland would have had to use their MLE to offer Childress a contract, which Atlanta could match and would have 7 days to decide whether or not to do that. During that waiting period Milwaukee/Cleveland could miss out on other free agents they wanted to sign while Atlanta made their decision. Dallas signed Gortat to a full MLE deal which Orlando matched just to screw with Dallas, after stealing away Brandon Bass while Dallas waited for them to not match the Gortat offer.

The other, more attractive option would be trying to work out a sign and trade deal with Atlanta. Milwaukee and Cleveland would rather do that because Childress' would be signed with his bird rights by Atlanta, then traded to them so they would still have their MLE to spend on other free agents. Obviously, Atlanta wasn't amenable to this - they have no reason to help out Cleveland or Milwaukee by giving them Childress. At the least they would demand something in return like a draft picks, cap relief, or a cheap role player or two.

Childress is making decent dough in Greece, so even though he probably would have taken a cheaper deal to return to the NBA, the politics and rules of the CBA prevented it from happening. It was a hassle, so both teams said screw it - Milwaukee signed Hakim Warrick and Cleveland signed Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon. Atlanta still holds Childress' bird rights, they will wait for a good deal to sign and trade him. Or, they will wait for him to sign a cheapo contract to return to the NBA, which they could match within 7 days if they wanted to.

Until then, everything is in limbo. Childress opted into the second year of his Greek deal and now he isn't a tradeable asset until next year, just like Kleiza. Bottom line, the Nugs can;t get anything for Kleiza right now. They can deal with trading him whenever he is done with Europe and chooses to return to the NBA. My guess is Kleiza will stay in Europe for at least 2 years, if he comes back to the NBA the most likely scenario would be back to the Nuggets on a pretty cheap contract. Anything could happen though, but LK cannot be traded until he's out of his Euro contract for now. Complicated, I know. Kind of a bummer too

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