Linas Kleiza Has Microfracture Surgery, Done For Rest Of Raptors' Season

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Linas Kleiza Has Microfracture Surgery, Done For Rest Of Raptors' Season

Linas Kleiza has undergone microfracture surgery and will be out of action for nine to 12 months, the Toronto Raptors announced on Thursday. The Lithuanian forward signed with the Raptors after a season in Greece, but hasn't been able to help Toronto recover from losing Chris Bosh in free agency last summer. The Raptors have lost 13 straight games, the last several of which Kleiza missed.

Kleiza played college ball at Missouri, and served as Carmelo Anthony's back-up with the Denver Nuggets from 2005 to 2009. But the Nuggets were hesistant to offer Kleiza a substantial contract in restricted free agent in 2009, which ended up being a buyer's markets due to rampant 2010 plotting. Kleiza moved to Greek power Olympiakos, where he became the leading scorer in Euroleague play.

Still a restricted free agent last summer, Kleiza signed an offer sheet with the Raptors, and Denver chose not to match. The deal was worth $18 million over four years, with Kleiza earning $5 million this season.

Perhaps most unfortunate about Kleiza's long recovery is that his home nation of Lithuania is hosting the FIBA European Championship (known colliquially as Eurobasket) in August and September 2011. Spots in the 2012 London Olympic tournament are up for grabs, and though the Lithuanians have a cadre of powerful young big men rising through their program, Kleiza remains the team's most explosive weapon. Kleiza will miss Eurobasket, a proud moment in his country's basketball history. That's got to be devastating.

For more on Kleiza and the Raps, visit Raptors HQ.

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