The Nemanja Bjelica era of Kings basketball officially is over. NBC Sports California confirmed through a league source that the Kings found a taker for the Serbian forward Thursday morning, shipping the 32-year-old to the Miami Heat for Moe Harkless and Chris Silva.
Like the Delon Wright trade from late Wednesday, this isn’t a franchise-altering deal, but if Harkless can provide some support from the bench, the deal could yield some positives this season.
There was no secret around Sacramento that Bjelica would like to find a new home. He still showed up to work every day and when called upon, played solid minutes, but his opportunities were limited.
Here is a closer look at the deal.
The Kings guaranteed the final year of Bjelica’s contract at $7.2 million as an insurance policy in case Marvin Bagley struggled with injuries again. Buried on the bench and out of the rotation for much of the year, the former EuroLeague MVP never really found a rhythm this season for the Kings.
Harkless signed a one-year, $3.6 million contract with the Heat in September after splitting last season between the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks. He is on an expiring contract, in the same way that Bjelica is, but he’s owed almost exactly half.
Silva is a converted two-way player making $1.5 million this year with a team option for $1.7 million next season.
Sacramento shaved roughly two million off its salary for this season, which helps the bottom line. Neither Harkless or Silva have guaranteed money moving forward and the Kings added a $2.2 million trade exception.
Harkless is a super long combo forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan. The 27-year-old has bounced around the league, but his best days came with the Portland Trail Blazers when he was an integral part of the team that went all the way to the 2018-19 Western Conference Finals.
Lost in the rotation in Miami, Harkless will get a shot in Sacramento to provide depth and rebuild his value. His stats rarely show his impact on a game, but the Kings picked up a very solid defender that won’t demand touches on the offensive end and understands his role.
At 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, Silva is a big-bodied power forward with potential. He’s worked his way into the league, although he has played a total of 429 minutes over his season and a half in the league.
With the Kings having two second-round picks and a slew of young players already under contract, it’s unlikely that Silva gets much of a shot in Sacramento.
Bjelica is a more well-rounded player and a far superior shooter, but Harkless is the type of player the Kings desperately need. He defends at a high level and can get up and down the court in a hurry.
Just like the Wright deal, the Kings added length and defensive acumen. He won’t put up big numbers, but his team usually is better when he’s on the court. During the 2018-19 season in Portland, the Blazers were a +3.1 on the offensive end and a -3.2 on the defensive end with Harkless on the court for a net +6.2.
If Harkless can be that player in Sacramento, he might stick around longer than just this season.
Silva is lost in a sea of undrafted and second-round players hiding on the Kings’ bench. He might get a chance to show what he can do if the Kings’ season spins out, but the team already is committed to players like DaQuan Jeffries, Robert Woodard and Chimezie Metu.
This is a sound basketball move by Kings general manager Monte McNair. He saved a small chunk of change and added Harkless, who has the potential to fit into the rotation and help this team’s biggest weakness -- defense. The Kings also got five years younger in the transaction.
McNair hasn’t swung for the fences yet, but he also hasn’t cashed in the season. With Wright and Harkless on the roster, the Kings are deeper and better suited to compete down the stretch this season.
This trade also didn’t cost the Kings any additional salary commitments past this season. You would have liked to have seen McNair pick up an asset like a second-round pick in a deal for Bjelica, but his contract is just big enough to make things complicated. Yielding another trade exception is a nice bonus as well.