Euroleague Basketball
Photo: Euroleague Basketball

EA7 Emporio Armani Milan added to its backcourt by bringing in former Eurocup champion Mantas Kalnietis. The deal is through the end of next season. Kalnietis (1.95 meters, 29 years old) arrives from boyhood club Zalgiris Kaunas, which he rejoined this summer and averaged 6.8 points, 4.1 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 14 Turkish Airlines Euroleague games. Kalnietis brings the experience from a total of 128 Euroleague games over nine seasons with him to Milan. He spent his entire career with Zalgiris, spare three seasons with Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar between 2012 and 2015. It was with Lokomotiv that he won the 2013 Eurocup. Kalnietis averaged 13.4 points and 4.9 assists in that championship season.

Kalnietis was the second best paid player in Kaunas with a salary of around €400,000. It is reported that Kalnietis will earn €600,000 in Milan. Italian club will also have to pay a buy-out of €250,000 to Zalgiris.

According to Zalgiris GM Paulius Motiejunas, the club has a list of the players that they are looking at as potential additions but there will be no rush since no new players can be registered before the end of February when the first round of Top 16 ends.

Zalgiris is also close to bringing German talent Isaiah Hartenstein to Kaunas this season even though he was supposed to join the team for the next season. Hertenstein helped Zalgiris youth team win the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Kaunas and qualify for the Final Four in Berlin. Though the injury of veteran center Robertas Javtokas means that Zalgiris is need of big man and Hartenstein proved to be ready to play at a higher level.