Lietuvos Rytas will be rebuilding the team once again. Four players are already certain to leave the team and there will be more changes.
Lithuanian club will part ways with Milko Bjelica, Kenan Bajramovic, DJ Strawberry and Cemal Nalga. The contracts of these players expired and there’s no intention by Rytas to keep any of them.
Gedvydas Vainauskas, Lietuvos Rytas president, told to ‘Lietuvos Rytas’ daily that there will five or six foreigners on the roster next season since Aleksandar Rasic and Brad Newley have contracts for one more year and there will be three or four new players coming.
Bjelica and Nalga failed to meet the expectations, according to Vainauskas. While Bajramovic wasn’t stable throughout the season in addition to being one of the most expensive players at the club.
The club hopes to keep Martynas Gecevicius and Simas Jasaitis. Though it won’t be that easy as Gecevicius has one more year left in his current deal but there’s a buy-out clause. Unicaja was seriously interested in Rytas’ sharp shooter last summer and was close to bringing him to Spain.
Vainauskas stated that Jasaitis wants to stay in Vilnius but he will be expected to give his best in training. The player returned to his former club before the Euroleague Top 16 after being without a club for six months.
Arturas Jomantas, who was expected to be an important player will be leaving the team as his contract expired.
The planning of next season’s roster is further complicated by uncertainty regarding in which European tournament Rytas will be playing. After losing LKL finals to Zalgiris, the club earned the right to play in Euroleague qualifying rounds.
However, making way to Euroleague regular season will not be easy with 16 teams battling for only two spots. The uncertainty also affects club’s budget which largely depends on the tournament in which the team plays.
According to Gedvydas Vainauskas, the team will not be built for a single season this time but for a few years instead.
This will be done by bringing a group of young players from Rytas’ farm team in LKL, Perlas. The players that are expected to join Rytas are Arvydas Siksnius, Vilmantas Dilys, Zydrunas Kelys, Evaldas Kairys, Paulius Dambrauskas, Saulius Kulvietis and Eimantas Bendzius.
The future of current head coach Darius Maskoliunas is also uncertain but it will be decided in the coming days. The roster will be more clear in June which means that there will be signings by Rytas soon.