5:08pm: Bjelica is ready to sign with Minnesota if the Wolves hold on to his rights, a source tells Cauchi. Several NBA teams are interested in trading for those rights, but Minnesota has set a high bar for such proposals, sources also indicated to Cauchi. In any case, the Timberwolves plan to either sign him this summer or trade his rights, Wolfson tweets. There is the matter of a buyout worth 1.2 million euros, as Cauchi points out. That would be the equivalent of about $1.268MM at the current exchange rate. Minnesota or another NBA team would only be able to foot the bill for about half of that.
12:05pm: Draft-and-stash power forward Nemanja Bjelica has interest in signing with the Timberwolves this summer, according to Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi (Twitter link), who confirms an earlier report from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that the Wolves also want a deal with him. Wolfson wrote in February that Minnesota is planning a strong push for the 26-year-old whose rights the Wolves acquired on draft night in 2010 shortly after the Wizards made him the 35th overall pick. His contract with Turkey’s Fenerbahce Ulker runs until 2016, as Mark Porcaro notes in our Draft Rights Held Players Database, but there’s an opt-out that would allow him to jump to the NBA this summer, sources tell Cauchi (Twitter link).
Bjelica signed with agent Arn Tellem’s Wasserman Media Group prior to the season, and the Wolves have a strong relationship with Tellem, as Wolfson noted. Wolfson speculated that signing Bjelica would require an offer similar to the three-year deal worth more than $16.6MM that fellow draft-and-stash prospect Nikola Mirotic inked with the Bulls this past summer. The starting salary in Mirotic’s contract is equivalent to the full value of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception, seemingly a high price tag for a player who’s putting up solid but unspectacular averages of 12.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game overseas.
The Wolves have about $51MM in guaranteed salary for next season against a salary cap that’s projected to come in at around $68MM, not including a $5MM player option for Chase Budinger or the cap hold for what’s sure to be a high lottery pick. Minnesota would be hard-pressed to open significant cap room, making it more likely that at least a portion of the mid-level, or the biannual exception, would go toward signing Bjelica if the sides were to reach a deal.