After a slow start to free agency, a source has confirmed to NBC Sports California that the Kings are in the recruiting phase with unrestricted free agent Nemanja Bjelica.
No contract has been discussed, but the team is attempting to convince the Serbian forward that there is value in staying in the NBA.
News of potential interest between the parties first broke Wednesday afternoon.
Forward Nemanja Bjelica and the Kings plan to begin discussing potential deal, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. Bjelica represents a shooter on the wing/frontcourt, and a long-term fit makes sense.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 18, 2018
Sources: Kings GM Vlade Divac reached out to Nemanja Bjelica today to explain his value in staying in the NBA versus leaving for Europe. https://t.co/kwltJZ9rVx— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 18, 2018
Bjelica agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers on July 5, but he never signed on the dotted line and informed the team earlier this week of his decision to return to Europe this season.
Free agent forward Nemanja Bjelica -- who had agreed to a one-year deal with the 76ers -- informed the team on Monday that he will stay in Europe this season, league sources tell ESPN. He never signed his contract with Philadelphia.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 17, 2018
The 6-foot-10 combo forward spent the last three seasons coming off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He posted 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game under coach Tom Thibodeau, but his opportunities were limited in the T-Wolves' system.
At 30, Bjelica is older than most of the Kings’ recent targets, but he potentially could fill a glaring hole in the roster as a shooter at both the three and the four. Bjelica split his minutes between both forward positions in Minnesota last season, knocking down a career-best 41.5 percent on 2.7 attempts per game from behind the arc.
There is no word yet on the exact dollar figure offered by the Kings. Sacramento has a whopping $20.5 million in salary-cap space to work with, and the free agent market is nearly dried up.
While four years older, Bjelica compares favorably as a player to the Spurs’ Davis Bertans, who signed a two-year, $14.5 million contract to return to San Antonio earlier this month as a restricted free agent.
According to a source, Sacramento likes Bjelica’s versatility and believes he can eat minutes at small forward this season, as well as shifting over to play the four.