Lithuanian media report --and his European agent apparently confirms-- that Mantas Kalnietis, the 6'5" combo guard who impressed at this week's free agent camp, has been invited to the Nets summer league which starts July 6 in Orlando. The Nets, as is their policy, have not confirmed the reports. However, Lithuania's national team coach said Thursday he wouldn't be surprised or unhappy if Kalnietis showed up late for the opening of the national team's training on July 7. Lithuania plays in the FIBA World Championships starting in late August.
But will he accept? His agent tells Lithuanian media that there are insurance issues since Kalnietis is still under contract with a Russian club, Lokomotiv Kuban
It's still unclear whether Mantas Kalnietis will play in the Summer League, the player's agent Tadas Bulotas tells Lietuvos Rytas TV. #Nets— Simonas Baranauskas (@LithuaniaBasket) June 5, 2014
Since Kalnietis is still under contract with Lokomotiv, there are issues regarding his insurance. Russian club won't take responsibility.— Simonas Baranauskas (@LithuaniaBasket) June 5, 2014
The agent even suggested that they don't see much benefit in playing in Summer League, when NBA teams can see Kalnietis play in the World Cup in Spain starting August 30. Like many European players hoping for a shot in the NBA, Kalnietis is likely to have a U.S. agent as well. Whoever he is, he has yet to be heard from.
Still, Bulotas noted that the invitation shows a level of interest in his client.
Bulotas: "The Summer League invite by Nets shows that chances of making NBA are realistic. The main questions would be regarding money."— Simonas Baranauskas (@LithuaniaBasket) June 6, 2014
Kalnietis, 27, is one of three prospects who've reportedly been offered a summer league roster spot. Nick Minnerath, a 6'9" small forward out of Detroit and the French and Spanish League, and Michael Jenkins, a 6'4" shooting guard out of Winthrop who played in the Italian League last season, have also reportedly been asked. It's expected that the Nets roster will feature last year's two rookies, Mason Plumlee and Jorge Gutierrez, as well as Marquis Teague and whoever (if anyone) the Nets take in the June 26 NBA Draft.
Kalnietis is Lithuania's reigning Player of the Year and the national team's starting point guard. He has a year remaining on his professional contract with Lokomotiv Kuban, but its president says he'll entertain offers if an NBA team wants Kalnietis. Actually signing Kalnietis to an NBA contract presents a whole other set of challenges because of the Nets lack of financial flexibility.
Meanwhile, Jonas Kazlauskas, Lithuanian's coach in the world, said Thursday he doesn't mind if Kalnietis shows up late for national team training.
According to tweets from @LithuaniaBasket
Kazlauskas on Kalnietis in SL: "Wouldn't call it being late. He'll be playing, training hard & not on holiday. Will be ready for NT." #Nets— Simonas Baranauskas (@LithuaniaBasket) June 5, 2014
Kalnietis' teammate on both the national team and Lokomotiv, Simas Jasaitis, said he was surprised at his friend's decision to work out for the NBA. Last time they spoke, he said, Kalnietis said he planned to fish and relax this summer.