Zalgiris Kaunas returns Mantas Kalnietis to the place he calls home
Mantas Kalnietis penned a two-year contract with Zalgiris Kaunas, the Lithuanian powerhouse announced Monday.
Kalnietis, 34, made his pro debut with Zalgiris and returned for another stint in the first half of the 2015-16 season. He signed up for his 12th Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, first since 2017-18 and eighth with Zalgiris.
Per the press release: “Zalgiris continues lining up its ranks for next season with the signing of Mantas Kalnietis. The two sides agreed to a contract that will keep the 34-year-old in Kaunas for two years.
“Kaunas is my home, and Zalgiris is more than just a team. When I left I always knew I‘d love to come back with the condition that I‘ll be needed. When I came back to Lithuania, I talked to the coach and it was clear that we‘re both on board. Both sides were interested in finding an agreement, and everything else unfolded quickly,” – said the captain of the Lithuanian national team.
Kalnietis began his professional career in Zalgiris in 2006, where he played for 6 years, before making his move to Lokomotiv-Kuban Krasnodar, where he won the EuroCup. Kalnietis had made a return to Kaunas in 2015, and later played for Emporio Armani Milano and ASVEL Villeurbanne, finally signing with Lokomotiv-Kuban again in 2019.
Kalnietis averaged 8.7 points, 7.1 assists and 2.8 rebounds in the EuroCup this season, as his side reached the Quarterfinals. His individual performances were not left unnoticed, as he was elected to the all-tournament second team.
The guard earned MVP honors in the VTB United League, averaging 9.6 points, 9.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds for an efficiency of 17.3.
Mantas Kalnietis has earned four LKL and BBL trophies with Zalgiris, alongside two LKF cups. He added to his trophy case playing abroad, as he’s won the EuroCup, Italian and French leagues once and the Italian Supercup twice.”