The Sacramento Kings have leveraged their position as one of the only remaining teams with meaningful cap space to lure yet another free agent away from a prior commitment.
Hours after Sacramento reportedly inked free agent guard Yogi Ferrell for two years and $6.2 million hours after he spurned a reported deal with the Dallas Mavericks, the Kings landed forward Nemanja Bjelica, agreeing to terms on a three-year, $20.5M deal on Friday evening, according to Yahoo Sports.
Bjelica had previously committed to sign a one-year, $4.4 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers before backing out because of family, professional and personal concerns, per the Yahoo report.
According to Yahoo, the third season of Bjelica’s deal is non-guaranteed.
It was initially reported that Bjelica was exploring options of returning to play in Europe after reconsidering his 76ers agreement, but he eventually found a bigger payday and longer deal to remain in the NBA, and he told Yahoo that Kings general manager Vlade Divac was a huge reason why he changed course.
“I spent a lot of time talking with Vlade and as an icon in our country, he has a unique perspective on what it takes to put yourself in a successful NBA situation and what it takes as a player to perform in that situation,” Bjelica said to Yahoo. “The organization’s belief in and commitment to me overwhelmed me and my family. I am ready to do everything I can to help the Kings and be a part of the Sacramento community.”
Bjelica, 30, averaged 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game with the Wolves last season, shooting 41.5 percent from 3-point range while playing in 67 games (21 starts). All of those figures were career bests during his three-year NBA stint.
A second-round pick of the Washington Wizards in 2010, the Serbian big man played professionally in Europe from 2007-15, most recently from 2013-15 with Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul, Turkey. He was named EuroLeague MVP in 2015 before joining Minnesota.
Even after luring Ferrell and Bjelica, the Kings still could be a factor in the late stages of free agency as they have over $10 million remaining in cap space, easily the largest figure of any team in the NBA.
—Field Level Media