Mantas Kalnietis, named Lithuania's player of the year for 2013, tops the late adds to the Nets free agent camp.
Kalnietis, the starting point guard on the Lithuanian national team, is one of four adds to the camp roster, along with Sean Evans, formerly of St. John's, Jamelle Hagins, formerly of Delaware and Yakhouba Diawara of France. Lance Thomas, Michael Snaer, Delroy James, Richard Howell and James Feldine are out. Thomas and Snaer were seen as top possibilities for the Nets summer league roster, both having been invited to Nets training camp in the past.
Kalnietis, on the other hand, is a top European player. At 6'5", Kalnietis has played for the Lithuanian national team off and on since 2006, when he was 19. He helped Lithuania win a silver medal in FIBA EuroBasket 2013, averaging 12.1 points and 5 assists per game, tops in the tournament. He played in the 2012 Olympics for Lithuania and will play in the Worlds this summer as well, going up against Jorge Gutierrez and Mexico on opening night.
Professionally, Kalnietis helped Žalgiris, which has produced a number of NBA players, win a Baltic League title in 2008, two Lithuanian League titles in 2007 and 2008 and two Lithuanian Cups in 2007 and 2008. He also led the team to a 2007 ULEB Summer League title, where he was named MVP.
This past season, he played for Lokomotiv in the Russian League where he averaged 9.4 points and 4.8 assists per game. Eurobasket, the international basketball site, called him "classic Lithuanian," who is an "aggressive player and very good shooter" as well as an "amazing dunker." Here's a highlight package.
Kalnietis still has a year to run on his contract with Lokomotiv and the Nets are limited in what they can offer him this year, but as is often said, things can change either this summer, or summer to summer. Basketnews Lithuania reported Monday that at least two other teams, the Hawks and Raptors have interest in Kalnietis.
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