WEDNESDAY, 4:34am: Bjelica has officially opted out of his deal with Fenerbahce Ulker, Pick reports (Twitter link).
SUNDAY, 7:44pm: Saunders said the Wolves will bring Bjelica over in time for next season, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein tweets.
SATURDAY, 10:05am: Bjelica is in serious discussions with the Timberwolves on a three-year, $12MM-plus deal, but the two sides have been exploring all options, Shams Charania of RealGM.com reports. There is active trade interest around the NBA for the Serbian forward as well, Charania adds.
FRIDAY, 11:53am: The Timberwolves are close to an agreement with draft-and-stash prospect Nemanja Bjelica, reports Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Minnesota couldn’t formally sign the Euroleague MVP until after the July Moratorium, as long as he’s signing for more than the minimum, which will presumably be the case.
Bjelica has sought a “serious offer” of between $5MM and $7MM per season, as David Pick of Eurobasket.com reported this spring. The Timberwolves are unlikely to have the capacity to give him more than the $5.434MM mid-level exception, though speculation has suggested that Minnesota wouldn’t be willing to go that high. Still, the sides have seemingly held mutual interest in a deal.
The Wolves acquired the power forward’s NBA rights from the Wizards in 2010 one year after Washington drafted him 35th overall. Bjelica, already 27, averaged 11.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in 26.1 minutes per game this season for Turkey’s Fenerbahce Ulker. He has one more season left on his contract for that team, as Mark Porcaro shows on our Draft Rights Held Players database. He can escape with a buyout reportedly of 1.2 million euros, the equivalent of about $1.339MM, though the Timberwolves could foot up to $625K of that amount.