Raptors’ Weems signs deal with Lithuanian team
Sonny Weems has joined Zalgiris Kaunas of Lithuania, signing a
contract that will keep him in Europe all season rather than risk
sitting out an entire year if the NBA lockout lasts.
Roger Montgomery, Weems’ agent, said his client signed the deal
Thursday without an NBA opt-out clause because he believes the
league’s uncertain labor situation makes it ”in our best interest
to unpack our bags and stay the entire year.”
Weems played last season for Toronto and was a restricted free
agent. The Raptors extended a qualifying offer, meaning they would
maintain the right to match any offer by another team if he
returned to the NBA.
Montgomery says Weems could play 70 games next season between
the Lithuanian and Euroleague schedules, a good opportunity for a
young player instead of losing the entire year if the NBA and
players don’t reach a deal. He didn’t disclose the value of the
Montgomery started looking for opportunities for his players at
the urging of the union, which had been telling agents to be
prepared for a long work stoppage. He quickly found a match in the
Lithuanian champs, a team he described as needing ”one little
boost to get over that hump” and believes the swingman is that
”Sonny will be able to go in and make a true impact,”
Montgomery said, helping a team ”really in the middle of the pack
maybe go to the top of the pack.”
Weems, who turned 25 Friday, is not the quality of Deron
Williams, who Thursday was nearing a deal to join Besiktas of
Turkey in September if the lockout remains. But Montgomery said
Weems was the first from the NBA to agree to the deal without the
option to return once the lockout ends.
That could be a while and Montgomery wasn’t willing to wait.
”There’s no way I’m going sit by idly and wait for David Stern
to decide if he wants to be fair,” Montgomery said.
Weems averaged 9.2 points in 59 games for the Raptors last
season. Because he is not currently under NBA contract, he is free
to make the jump without worry of FIBA approval.