The Kings explored the trade market for Nemanja Bjelica around the time of the draft and will likely to continue to find a way to move the veteran forward, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports.
Bjelica’s playing time has dropped dramatically — he hasn’t seen court time since January 9 — due to the organization’s decision to develop its younger players and find core pieces to fit around the team’s star, De’Aaron Fox, Anderson adds.
Sacramento could have shed Bjelica’s $7.15MM salary in November but instead opted to guarantee the contract. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Bjelica, 32, had his best season as a pro in 2019/20, starting 67 of 72 games at power forward for the Kings. The veteran stretch four established new career highs in PPG (11.5), RPG (6.4), APG (2.8) and 3PT% (.419).
Coach Luke Walton said he has discussed the situation with Bjelica.
“It is a balancing act,” Walton said. “… You look at where the future of this team is going … We need them (the younger players) out there. We need them getting better, but at the same time we’re trying to win. There’s not an easy answer to that. It is a balancing act of getting the experience and that exposure.”
Marvin Bagley III, who missed a good chunk of last season due to injuries, has started regularly at the four. Chimezie Metu has received some backup minutes at the position and Walton has also used some smaller lineups.