By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
While the Lithuanian forward began his second year in New York carrying aspirations for more playing time and perhaps an expanded role on the floor, he was waived in mid-November. He had registered merely two minutes in one match this season.
“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t play at all. But honestly, I expected to play more when Melo (Anthony) was traded,” Kuzminskas told Eurohoops. “I think I was doing pretty well in the training camp. But the club changed their strategy and they wanted to go younger. They wanted to have a young team in order to look more to the future.”
Still, no hard feelings by the 28-year-old player despite seeing his first-time NBA stint reaching an unexpected roadblock. Especially since, as he said to Eurohoops, this outcome was mutually decided by him and the Knicks.
“I think it was a decision from both sides. It wasn’t a decision of the Knicks or mine. It came from both. For my future and the club’s future it was the better decision.”
Kuzminskas was up for grabs and, to the surprise of noone, many suitors knocked on his door with offers. His combination of size, offensive versatility and experience were highly appealing to any top-tier European club and, in the end, it was Milano that penned him to a deal and brought him back in EuroLeague.
“I had a few offers from EuroLeague teams. But Milano was really flexible,” Kuzminskas explained to Eurohoops. “I talked to the coach (Simone Pianigiani) and he told me he sees a long-term vision, not something short term. That’s why I’m here. I came to Milano because I believe in this team. I believe in this club and I believe that everything should be alright with me and the team.”
Shortly after his deal with the Italian club was officially announced, Milano president Livio Proli said that he considers him a transfer with potentially long-term effects to the team’s future development.
Could Kuzminskas become the leader to propel Milano, a team that hasn’t made the EuroLeague playoffs in three years and is at the bottom of the standings right now, to greener pastures in the future?
“I think nowadays there is no team that depends on one player. It’s team basketball. It’s better for the team when one player performs well this day and another player.”