So much for the excuse about spurning the 76ers because he wanted to play in Europe.
Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday afternoon that Nemanja Bjelica plans to discuss a potential free-agent deal with the Sacramento Kings. This comes one day after the 6-foot-10 Serbian forward informed the Sixers that he wanted to remain in Europe this coming season.
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
Bjelica, who played for the Minnesota Timberwolves the past three seasons, had reached an agreement July 5 with the Sixers on a one-year, midlevel exception for $4.45 million.
Bjelica flew to Europe when the Timberwolves’ season ended and was scheduled to have a physical with the Sixers last week. The team said that visa complications prevented Bjelica from taking the physical.
The 30-year-old was looking for a better deal with more years than the one he agreed on with the Sixers, EuroHoops reported. Bjelica also said he thought staying in Europe would be best for the family.
I'm told Nemanja Bjelica felt devalued at $4.4M with PHI. Fenerbahce decided not to overload roster, CSKA have no interest at this time, SAC Kings can throw him more cash than his Sixers deal. This is a financial decision.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) July 18, 2018
“It’s not about the coach [Brett Brown] of the Philly organization,” he told The Athletic on Tuesday. “Brett Brown, he’s a great guy and a great coach. The most important thing for me is family and some kind of stability.”
The Sixers rescinded their rights to JJ Redick, Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli, and Ersan Ilyasova in order to free up cap space. They eventually re-signed Redick and Johnson to one-year deals. But Ilyasova (Milwaukee Bucks) and Belinelli (Spurs) returned to two of their former teams.
Bjelica was supposed to take Ilyasova’s place as a sharpshooting big off the bench. The Sixers were also impressed that he was versatile enough to play small forward.
He averaged 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds during his three seasons in Minnesota. Bjelica averaged a career-best 6.8 points this past season while shooting a career-best 41.5 percent on three-pointers. He became an unrestricted free agent after the Timberwolves rescinded their qualifying offer to sign Anthony Tolliver.
Bjelica’s spurning is a bad look for a Sixers team that was unable to lure any of the three free-agent targets they coveted. LeBron James signed a four-year, $153 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. Paul George signed a four-year, $137 million deal to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder. And earlier Wednesday, news came down that the San Antonio Spurs are trading Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors.