Friends, I have a confession. Through this season of unexpected wonders, I’ve been unable to fully participate in the joy. There has been something missing. With growing dread and sadness I’ve watched Mindaugas Kuzminskas go from street clothes to uniform to street clothes again, with no explanation or interviews. I’ve seen his contagious smile dim, and his shoulders sag slightly as he leaves the court. Half-hearted high fives as he walks into the tunnel. The little dark cloud was hard to ignore. The way ahead was clear, but it hurt too much to acknowledge. Cheese had no future here. And then yesterday, as sure as God made tiny green apples, the Knicks waived our Lithuanian prankster, our Baltic sunshine, our Eastern European rainbow.
This one hurts, and the organization went out of its way to make it known that this was not done lightly:
The NY Knicks have waived forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas. pic.twitter.com/HZHFIRiFBe— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) November 12, 2017
Kuz made his own announcements on Twitter, and with the saddest Instagram picture you will ever see:
Some goodbyes from the team and celebrity row:
(Assuming Ansel Elgort is too choked up to make a statement.)
It’s not all sadness, though. Although they may have waived him for lack of a decent trade, this also allows him to sign with any team that has cap space (as opposed to getting shipped to Orlando for a draft pick and some gum wrappers). Kuz should actually get playing time on a team that wants him. This is a good thing! There’s already a bunch of talk about where he could land:
Chicago and Dallas can also get to enough space if they were to renounce TPEs that they have.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) November 12, 2017
The following teams have a large enough TPE/DPE to claim Kuzminskas
New Orleans (but they are hard capped)
If Kuzminskas clears waivers, Lakers, Bulls, Hawks expected to have interest, per source.— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) November 12, 2017
Kuzminskas should be a pretty easy claim for Dallas or Indiana, IMO. Both have cap space and relative use for another rotation forward. Claiming team would get RFA rights this summer, too.— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) November 12, 2017
Despite this, most of the online chatter seems to involve the Lakers (who would have to do some waiving of their own):
Should the Lakers want to open a roster spot for a player like Kuzminskas, they would have to waive someone. Preferably Tyler Ennis and/or Andrew Bogut.— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) November 12, 2017
The previous regime was interested in Kuzminskas before he signed w/the Knicks. Considering the Lakers' difficulties on the wing, I wouldn't be surprised if they give him a look. https://t.co/qsVAa3PjKV— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) November 12, 2017
In all seriousness, the Lakers should absolutely look at claiming Mindaugas Kuzminskas. He can shoot the ball really some, but above all things, he’s not Corey Brewer.— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) November 12, 2017
So our Cheese looks like he should land on his feet. A better tomorrow is likely. Go Kuz go!
Mindaugas would not want us to be sad, so let’s take this time to revisit the special je ne sais quoi that made Cheese the merriest of the braliukas:
There’s the savage Kyle O’Quinn burns that first put Kuz on the map:
To his willingness to make fun of anyone:
To his extravagantly beautiful ballerina wife,
Kuz has shown us that life can be happy, and for this (and oh yeah, his effort on the court) we will always be grateful.
So Mindaugas, if you ever read this, this is what I hope you see: every one of the 350+ replies to your goodbye Twitter post has been kind and supportive. You have truly created a miracle: you have made the people of the internet nice.
You deserve it, Cheese. Vaya con dios. We will miss you.