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

contract.

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

player.

”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.