Sasha Vujacic

Atlantic Notes: Vujacic, Harper, Celtics

One benefit of the Knicks signing Sasha Vujacic is his knowledge of the triangle offense, which he is ready to share with the other members of the team, Ian Begley of writes. “Of course, of course. I was always someone that helped players on the court. We have a lot of rookies and a lot of younger players –- I still consider myself young by the way -– so we have a great mix of guys and I’m looking forward to teaching them and giving them help,” Vujacic told Begley. “I don’t want to be a teacher because we have a coach that will lead us towards something [but] if there’s going to be anything needed for me to show or do I’ll be more than happy to do so.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks team president Phil Jackson is looking for the veteran to be a game-changing shooter off the bench for the team this season, Begley adds. “Except for a 10-day contract with the Clippers in 2014, Sasha hasn’t played in the NBA for four years, but at age 31 he still has plenty of game,” Jackson said. “He’s a classic streak-shooter who, when he’s zeroed in, can totally change a game in three minutes. He’ll be a significant force for us coming off the bench.
  • Justin Harper‘s one-year deal with the Nets is for the league minimum and is non-guaranteed, Eric Pincus of Basketball insiders relays (Twitter link).
  • In a look at the Celtics‘ 2015 draftees, A. Sherrod Blakely of believes that Jordan Mickey will make the biggest impact this season, noting that at some point, injuries or inconsistent play by those ahead of him on the depth chart will create an opportunity for him to log significant minutes. Blakely also notes that if R.J. Hunter can demonstrate himself to be an adequate defender and shoot with a relatively high level of confidence, he could easily wind up as the biggest steal of this year’s draft.

Phil Jackson On Williams, Afflalo, Vujacic

Phil Jackson has endured his share of criticism since becoming team president of the Knicks, but he defended his offseason additions in the latest of his interviews with Charlie Rosen for The Knicks failed to land a superstar in this summer’s free agency, instead taking a piecemeal approach with their cap space as they used it on Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and others. The executive made his lengthiest comments about Williams, who, according to Jackson, is confident that he already knows the triangle because of the time he spent watching Jackson’s Lakers in the 2000s and videos he found more recently on YouTube.

The entire piece is a must-read, especially for Knicks fans, and we’ll pass along a few highlights here:

On Derrick Williams:

“I mean, there’s no doubt that Derrick has the talent, size and strength to be a more-than-capable NBA player. However, his development has been hindered by several factors. From the start of his pro career, being the second overall draft pick has been like an albatross around his neck, something that he, and lots of other people, felt a lot of pressure to live up to. I told him that right now he’s an NBA player and it no longer makes any difference where he was drafted. He just has to learn how to play the game the right way. That means developing a defensive mindset, developing an intermediate game and improving his long-range shooting.”

On Arron Afflalo:

“Some NBA watchers have questioned whether or not Arron has anything left as he nears his 30th birthday, but I’m positive that he does. He has a gym in his Las Vegas home and he works out religiously. Actually, he’s such a hard-worker that he holds his teammates accountable if they try to cut corners in any way. I look for Arron to be a leader on this team. He wanted us and we wanted him, so Arron and the Knicks is a very good match.”

On Sasha Vujacic:

“Except for a 10-day contract with the Clippers in 2014, Sasha hasn’t played in the NBA for four years, but at age 31 he still has plenty of game. He’s a classic streak-shooter who, when he’s zeroed in, can totally change a game in three minutes. He’ll be a significant force for us coming off the bench.”

And-Ones: Brand, Gordon, Knicks

Free agent big man Elton Brand, 36, who’s contemplating retirement, told Jane Lerner of The Journal News that he has not received “the phone call,” and remains noncommittal toward his future. Brand, who played for the Hawks last season, had been connected to the Mavs earlier this summer.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Drew Gordon, who played mostly in the D-League and appeared in nine games with the Sixers last season, inked a deal with France’s Chalons-Reims, according to the team’s site (h/t Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). The forward averaged 13 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game with the D-League’s Delaware 87ers. Gordon, 25, was waived by the Sixers in December.
  • Kristaps Porzingis, whom the Knicks drafted No. 4 overall, approved of the team’s signing of fellow European player Sasha Vujacic, a veteran and former member of the Lakers, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. “I played against him,’’ Porzingis said. “Very experienced. He’s a cold-blooded shooter. He doesn’t care. He loves the pressure. He’s great. Those situations will help the team in those important moments. For me, it will be great having him. His experience and being European, he can teach me a lot on how hard he works. He’s a hard worker.”

Knicks Notes: D-League, Antetokounmpo, Seraphin

One of the main reasons that the Knicks fired Kevin Whitted as coach of their D-League affiliate, and also did not retain his replacement, Craig Hodges, is because the team’s front office was not pleased with the development of Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Marc Berman of The New York Post relays (on Twitter). Antetokounmpo, who recently inked a partially guaranteed two-year deal with New York, appeared in 47 games for Westchester last season and averaged 13.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.

Here’s more from New York City:

  • Antetokounmpo’s deal with the Knicks includes a partial guarantee of $75k for the 2015/16 campaign, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Pincus also confirms that Sasha Vujacic‘s one-year pact is fully guaranteed.
  • Kevin Seraphin brings with him to New York a solid midrange game, with the big man nailing almost 45% of those attempts, but his true offensive value is that he’s effective playing with his back to the basket, which is a big plus in the triangle offense, Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal writes. The 25-year-old is also a solid rim-protector, but his propensity to get into foul trouble needs improvement, Herring adds.
  • Ian Begley of ran down Seraphin’s numbers from last season, as well as analyzed the center’s strengths and areas in need of improvement. One immediate area of concern for the Knicks regarding their recent signee is his lackluster rebounding production from a season ago, Begley notes.

Knicks Sign Sasha Vujacic

AUGUST 7TH, 1:31pm: The deal is official, the team announced (Twitter link).

AUGUST 1ST, 4:31pm: Agent Herb Rudoy told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that the contract is fully guaranteed (Twitter link).

JULY 31ST, 3:39pm: The contract will be guaranteed, Charania indicates on Twitter, running counter to previous reports (below).

2:41pm: It’s mostly non-guaranteed, according to Marc Berman and Jonathan Lehman of the New York Post.

2:34pm: It’ll be for the minimum salary, Charania writes in a full story. So, he’d make the $1,356,146 eight-year veteran’s minimum if he remains under contract through the season, but since it’s a one-year deal, the Knicks would only have to pay the two-year veteran’s minimum of $947,276, with the league footing the rest of the bill.

1:55pm: The arrangement is believed to be a training camp deal, tweets Ian Begley of, which suggests that it is no more than partially guaranteed.

1:11pm: The Knicks and Sasha Vujacic have agreed to a one-year deal, league sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). David Pick of reported Thursday that the sides had engaged in talks. The 31-year-old has appeared in only two NBA games since the 2011 lockout, but it appears his connection with Knicks team president Phil Jackson, Vujacic’s coach when they were with the Lakers, has drawn him back to the Association.

New York is also reportedly expected to sign draft-and-stash prospect Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and adding him and Vujacic would give the Knicks deals with 16 players. New York, at present, has only 11 fully guaranteed contracts, presuming that’s the case for the newly re-signed Lou Amundson, and Wesley Saunders and Darion Atkins seem like longshots to make the regular season roster, so Vujacic seems to stand a decent chance of sticking around for opening night.

Vujacic played parts of seven seasons with the Lakers, mostly with Jackson as his coach, picking up a pair of championship rings in a reserve role. He was a much more prominent figure for the Nets after a trade sent him to New Jersey early in the 2010/11 season, averaging 11.4 points in 28.5 minutes per game, but just as his NBA career seemed to be heating up, he headed overseas. The native of Slovenia has played in Turkey, Italy and Spain since his last full NBA season, stopping back in the NBA only for a single 10-day contract with the Clippers in 2013/14.

Knicks Talk With Sasha Vujacic

The Knicks have spoken with eight-year NBA veteran and former Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic, as David Pick of hears (Twitter link). The 31-year-old has played chiefly overseas since the 2011 lockout, save for a brief time with the Clippers in 2013/14. New York waived guard Ricky Ledo just this afternoon, ostensibly creating a vacancy in the backcourt.

Vujacic split this past season between Turkey and Spain, finding much greater playing time with Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi than he did with Spanish powerhouse Laboral Kuxta. He averaged 15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 33.4 minutes per game for Istanbul, but he put up just 5.2 PPG in 14.1 MPG for his Spanish team.

The Clippers brought aboard the two-time NBA champion on a 10-day contract in February 2014, but after 10 total minutes across two appearances, the sides didn’t end up doing another deal. Vujacic spent most of his last full season in the NBA with the Nets, in 2010/11, a career year in which he averaged 9.8 PPG in 24.6 MPG.

The native of Slovenia otherwise spent his time in the Association as a Laker, much of it with Phil Jackson, now team president of the Knicks, as his coach. The Knicks have deals with 14 players, so for now, room is available. Still, Jackson is reportedly targeting big men, including Kevin Seraphin and, perhaps to a lesser degree, Carlos Boozer.

Teams can carry up to 20 players through the preseason but only 15 during the regular season. New York has its $2.814MM room exception available to pay above the minimum.

Do you think the Knicks should sign Vujacic? Leave a comment to have your say.

And-Ones: Murphy, Belinelli, Smith

Kevin Murphy has signed a deal to join Zhejiang Guangsha in China, as Priority Sports, the agency that represents Murphy, announced on Twitter. We had already heard that the former Jazz camp invitee was leaving the D-League to pursue an opportunity to play overseas. We’ll round up more international news and have a look at what’s happening around the rest of the NBA below..

  • Marco Belinelli, a free agent at season’s end, wouldn’t comment on whether or not he was interested in re-joining the Spurs next season, reports Riccardo Pratesiba of La Gazzetta dello Sport (translation via Basketball Insiders). Still, it’s fair to assert Belinelli would have some interest in returning to San Antonio, where he’s enjoyed quite a bit of success over the past two seasons.
  • MLive’s David Mayo has never witnessed the sort of “mental and spiritual turnaround” that the Pistons have seemed to experience since waiving Josh Smith. Mayo sees the decision to part ways with Smith as a similar move to the one that sent Rudy Gay from the Raptors to the Kings,
  • Anthony Tolliver‘s partially guaranteed 2015/16 contract seemingly makes it less likely that the Pistons retain Jonas Jerebko next season, Mayo argues in the same piece. Given the relatively similar characteristics of the two players, Mayo thinks it’s likely the Pistons hang on to Tolliver rather than Jerebko, who is a free agent at year’s end, since they already have Tolliver under contract and can cut him loose for only $400K if he doesn’t meet expectations.
  • Turkey’s Istanbul BSB has officially announced (via Twitter) the signing of Sasha Vujacic along with three other players (translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Vujacic played two games for the Clippers last season on a 10-day contract before signing a deal to play in Europe.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Heslip, Kobe, Vujacic

It seems as though the top eight teams in the Western Conference are in many ways already set, but the Kings aren’t giving up on the idea that they can find a way into the playoffs this year, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck writes. Sacramento will add an impact player if an opportunity arises, according to Beck.

“This league, it’s a league of injuries, it’s a league of things that happen, chemistry,” Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro told Beck. “And you’ve seen things happen really fast in this league. So I don’t think we buy into the notion of, ‘Well, it’s locked to eight.’ We really don’t believe that. From our perspective, it’s: How are we getting better? How are we pursuing that spot?”

The Kings are 13-18, four games behind the Suns for the last playoff spot. There’s another Kings-related item amid the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • Brady Heslip has decided against signing with Banvit of Turkey because he believes he’s close to joining an NBA team, reports Marc Stein of (Twitter link). David Pick of reported earlier this week that Heslip, who’s been playing for Sacramento’s D-League affiliate, had a deal with the Turkish team. The Kings and Clippers have reportedly held interest in adding the sharpshooter to their NBA rosters.
  • Kobe Bryant still doesn’t rule out playing beyond his current contract, which expires in 2016, but for now he plans to retire after next season, as he said Tuesday to reporters, including Bill Oram of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). “If you asked me if I’m going to play beyond that, right now the answer is no,” Bryant said.
  • Sasha Vujacic is leaving Laboral Kuxta Vitoria (aka Saski Baskonia) of Spain, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). He’s next headed to play for Turkey’s Istanbul BSB, Carchia writes. Vujacic, who spent time on a 10-day contract with the Clippers last season, is one of several among 2013/14 10-day signees who are now playing overseas, as I noted Tuesday.
  • Warriors backup center Marreese Speights said he was especially motivated to beat the Sixers, as Golden State did Tuesday, not because of anyone with the team at current but because he harbors ill will toward Doug Collins, tweets Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle. Speights saw a career low 11.5 minutes per game under the former Sixers coach in 2010/11.

Pacific Notes: Thompson, Lakers, Vujacic

Warriors owner Peter Guber expressed regret Monday after sending an email that appeared to play on ethnic stereotypes, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports details. At least one team employee took offense, according to Spears. Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson is selling his stake in the Atlanta franchise after the discovery of an email he sent that contained racial overtones, and Hawks GM Danny Ferry is on indefinite leave of absence from the team after his racially charged comments. It remains to be seen if any such fallout with happen with Guber in the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal that touched off heightened awareness around the league. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Extension-eligible Klay Thompson reiterated his desire to stay with the Warriors in comments to Michael Lee of The Washington Post, who notes Stephen Curry‘s verbal influence on the team’s decision to keep Thompson out of Kevin Love trade proposals. “It’s arguments either way if you make a move or what not, how your team is going to look and if it’s a good move or not,” Curry said to Lee. “Obviously, you know that other guy was pretty good, but when you have a core that’s continuing to get better, you got a lot of good chemistry, we fit together, it makes sense. And you want to fight for that. [Thompson is] nowhere near his ceiling.”
  • The Lakers aren’t planning to apply to have Steve Nash‘s salary wiped from their cap based on a medical retirement, GM Mitch Kupchak told reporters Monday, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times notes (Twitter link). Nash hasn’t announced his retirement even though the 40-year-old is out for the season with nerve damage in his back. The team is instead applying for a Disabled Player Exception.
  • Sasha Vujacic has signed with Spain’s Laboral Kuxta, the Euroleague announced. Sportando’s Enea Trapani first reported the move involving the eight-year NBA veteran who spent time last season with the Clippers on a 10-day contract. He’ll replace former Kings swingman Orlando Johnson, whom the team is letting go, according to Trapani.

Sasha Vujacic Signs To Play In Italy

Former Lakers, Nets and Clippers shooting guard Sasha Vujacic has signed with Reyer Venezia of Italy, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). Massimo Oriani of La Gazzetta dello Sport originally reported the deal. The contract covers the rest of the season for the 30-year-old, who had briefly returned to the NBA last month on a 10-day contract with the Clippers. Doc Rivers said shortly after the deal expired that the club might re-sign Vujacic at some point this season if there was a roster spot available, and though the Clippers have just 14 players at this point, it looks like a reunion won’t materialize.

Vujacic spent most of this season attempting to revive his NBA career, which had been dormant since 2010/11, but his recent decision to join the Interperformances agency might have signaled a shift in plans. He spent 2011/12 and 2012/13 playing for Anadolu Efes in Turkey.

The Slovenian native last played in Italy before the Lakers drafted him 27th overall in 2004. He won a pair of championships with the purple-and-gold, but in parts of eight NBA seasons, he’s never averaged more than 9.8 points per game. He set that career high with the Nets in 2010/11, the only year he averaged as many as 20 minutes per contest.

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