A former Euroleague rising star and current European champion is returning to his roots for good with the announcement on Tuesday that CSKA Moscow and forward Viktor Khryapa have signed a four-and-a-half year deal through the end of the 2011-12 season. The signing of Khryapa (204, 25) is a major move for CSKA, both in the short term, with its frontcourt hurt by injuries going into the Top 16, and the long term, as it secures the services of a world-class home-grown player entering the prime of his career. Khryapa was a Final Four starter for CSKA in 2003 and 2004 before trying his luck for three-and-a-half seasons in the NBA with Portland and Chicago. Khryapa asked out of his contract with Chicago recently after playing just nine games, averaging 11.7 minutes and 3.6 points in them, this season. Last summer, Khryapa was a major force in helping Russia earn the gold medal at the European Championships. Khryapa had started his career with the Khimik Engels and soon moved to Autodorozhnik Saratov before joining CSKA in the summer of 2002. He helped CSKA to win the Russian League title in 2003 and 2004.
"Everyone knows that the injuries of our players put us in a very difficult situation," CSKA CEO Andrei Vatutin said on Tuesday at the signing ceremony for Khryapa. "CSKA plays without Smodis and Savrasenko for the third month in a row. In the Euroleague, we can compensate the absence of the players, but in the Russian League the pressure on the Russian players is too heavy. Khryapa is a high-class player and he is motivated, so we clearly need him. I think for Khryapa the contract with CSKA is a step up in his career. Besides, he would get some playing time before the Olympics."