LKL will meet the new season with an increased geography but the same number of teams. What could have been a break out season for the league was overwhelmed by the fact that all teams were given a problematic player – the financial crises.
A merge in Kaunas
The biggest splash this summer was probably made by the decision of two clubs from Kaunas to merge. Both Kaunas Triobet and Aisčiai Kaunas had very young and talented rosters last year, but managed to come up only 6th and 8th respectively. The planned budget is expected to exceed 1 million LTL and the owners expect a Top 4 finish. The main reason for this move was again the financial problems, as it is very hard to find sponsors when a club like Žagiris in town. It is yet unclear what the roster for the next season will be, but one thing is for sure – it’s going to be better than last year. That’s not to be said for most of the remaining teams as the basketball market this offseason has become quieter than usual.
There were hopes that two teams could join the league from the second division – NKL. But it now seems that only one will have a chance to compete in the top level. Last year’s champs Rūdupis from Prienai are improving their facilities to LKL standarts and will have a budget of 600 thousand LTL. The club had some known players last season like former Žagiris and Rytas player Kęstutis Šeštokas, the bronze medal winner of the Sydney Olympics Andrius Giedraitis, who was also once a player of Lietuvos Rytas. It’s likely they will stay for the big debut next season. The story is not so good for Juventus Utena as they are staying in the second tier for another year. The club would have had to pay a 350 thousand LTL entrance fee (Rūdupis as the winners of NKL didn’t have to pay it) and feared they wouldn’t be competitive with the money left for the roster. Juventus has great facilities, a new arena, which is always full of fans, but they’ll have to leave the LKL hopes for next year.