After spending four seasons in the NBA, Dragan Bender has signed a contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, tweets European basketball reporter Nemanja Zoric. The deal will cover three months with an option to extend it for the entire season, according to Moses Barda of Team Scout (Twitter link).
The brief nature of Bender’s agreement will give him an opportunity to return to the NBA next season if an opportunity arises, writes Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops. Bender played two seasons in Israel before coming to the NBA.
Bender, 22, will replace former NBA player Quincy Acy with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Askounis adds. Acy signed a one-year deal with the team last summer, but couldn’t come to terms for a second season.
Bender’s NBA career was disappointing after the Suns took him with the fourth pick in the 2016 draft. Instead of blossoming into a star, he wound up as a journeyman, with short stints with the Bucks and Warriors this season after spending three years in Phoenix.
His best season was in 2017/18 when he appeared in all 82 games for the Suns, started 37 and averaged 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per night. Phoenix elected not to offer him a rookie-scale extension, and he became a free agent last summer.
Bender signed with Milwaukee, but got into just seven games before being waived in February. He joined Golden State on a pair of 10-day deals and averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG in nine games before the hiatus began.