Nemanja Bjelica

Warriors Notes: 15th Roster Spot, Thomas, Wiseman, Wiggins

The Warriors will hold an open competition in training camp for their 15th roster spot, according to Taylor Wirth of NBC Sports Bay Area. Appearing on Tim Kawakami’s “The TK Show,” coach Steve Kerr said the team hasn’t decided to definitely carry 15 players, but several candidates will be considered when camp opens next week.

“The way we’re looking at it is that it’s up in the air,” Kerr said. “We may or may not use it, but that’s what training camp is for. You get a really good look at some guys, there are some really interesting names, people who are really proven players in the league. You get a chance to get a good look at those guys and some young guys who are trying to make it in the league.”

Gary Payton II, who has a non-guaranteed contract, is among the players in contention for that final spot, along with Mychal Mulder. The team also reportedly reached deals today with Langston Galloway and Avery Bradley, who will both be in the running for a roster spot.

“We’re just kind of leaving everything open and figuring this is what camp is for, you get a really good look at somebody, you throw them out there in exhibition games and you figure out exactly how you’re going to put your roster together,” Kerr said.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Isaiah Thomas had a “strong” week of workouts with Golden State, but left town without a deal, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. As Slater explains, Thomas remains on the lookout for an opportunity where he’d have a clearer path to a regular season roster spot.
  • Also on The TK Show, Kerr lamented that James Wiseman‘s development will be slowed by not having a full training camp for the second straight season, relays Alex Didion of NBC Sports Bay Area. After sitting out camp with COVID-19 as a rookie, Wiseman will be limited this year as he continues to recover from meniscus surgery. “He will be involved in camp, he’s going to be doing some drill work and he’s going to be part of things,” Kerr said. “The rehab is actually going really well, he’s really coming along and feels good. But because of the nature of the rehab, he has to take his time with contact and the full range of things he’s going to need to be able to do.”
  • Andrew Wiggins, whose playing status is uncertain while he remains unvaccinated, is currently restricted to individual workouts at Chase Center, tweets Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. San Francisco requires people to show proof of vaccination before they can enter indoor venues, and Poole states that Wiggins won’t be permitted to continue his workouts if he doesn’t receive the vaccine in the next 20 days.
  • The Warriors didn’t make any splashy moves during the offseason, but president of basketball operations Bob Myers is satisfied with the additions of Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica on veteran’s minimum contracts, telling Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle“We added three minimum players, and that may not look like much, but it wasn’t easy. All three were in demand. We are excited. What they’ll become is to be determined, but we targeted those guys. We made a good effort to get them and convince them that we were the right place for them.”

Warriors Notes: Bjelica, Porter, Poole, Rookies, Iguodala, Kerr

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes that adding veteran forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter in free agency should help make Golden State a better three-point shooting team in 2021/22, as he tells Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.

Kerr called the signing of Bjelica “really exciting,” pointing out that the Warriors haven’t really had a floor-spacing, pick-and-pop big man since Marreese Speights, who generally shot from the mid-range rather than from beyond the arc.

“I look at Bjelica as the three-point-shooting version of Mo, in many ways,” Kerr said. “Because all of a sudden, you’re looking at a spaced floor when you consider Klay (Thompson)‘s return and Steph (Curry)‘s play last year. The ability to play Bjelica with Draymond (Green), which basically turns Draymond into the five and the pick-and-roll guy with Bjelica spaced. Really exciting.”

Kerr also praised Porter, referring to him as a player who can guard multiple positions on defense and who isn’t just “going to stand in the corner” on offense.

“The whole thing with Otto is health now,” Kerr told Kawakami. “He feels like he’s healthy and we’re going to give him every opportunity to get himself in shape and in rhythm. If he can return to form, then he’s a really, really interesting player for us. Somebody who could play an important role.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Asked by Kawakami about lineup and rotation decisions to start the season, Kerr predicted that Jordan Poole will be the Warriors’ starting shooting guard until Thompson is ready to play, and said it’s “impossible to say” yet whether either Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody will play regular minutes.
  • Kerr recognizes that trading Andre Iguodala in 2019 was necessary in order to get below the hard cap, but is thrilled to have the veteran forward back in Golden State, as Kawakami relays. “I think when we lost him, we lost a piece of our soul,” Kerr said of Iguodala. “… Andre’s return, I think, is huge in a lot of different ways. First, he’s still got plenty to offer, as he showed in Miami the last two seasons. So his addition on the court will be huge for us. And second, he just embodies everything we’re about — versatility, sacrifice, the clear defining of roles, the mentoring that he brings for the younger guys. You throw all that into the equation and Andre is just an enormous addition for us.”
  • Kerr, who won a gold medal in Tokyo as an assistant coach for Team USA, was asked by Kawakami if he’d be interested in becoming the club’s head coach in 2024, assuming Gregg Popovich doesn’t return. His reply: “Of course I’d be interested. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I’ll leave it at that. I have no idea how it will all transpire; there are a lot of great candidates out there. And if I were to be considered, that would be an honor.”
  • The Warriors issued a press release today officially announcing a series of previously-reported additions to Kerr’s coaching staff, including Kenny Atkinson, Dejan Milojevic, and Jama Mahlalela.

Free Agency Roundup: Rose, Bjelica, Suns, Vanderbilt, Niang, Schroder

Derrick Rose had received interest from the Pelicans, Wizards, Bulls, and Heat before re-signing with the Knicks, write Jeff Zillgitt and Mark Medina of USA Today. The USA Today adds that Kyle Lowry signing with the Heat helped usher Rose back to the Knicks and coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose agreed to a three-year, $43MM deal on Monday.

In the same piece, Zillgitt and Medina write that five other teams considered signing Nemanja Bjelica with their mid-level exception, but Bjelica prioritized signing with the Warriors instead. Bjelica agreed to a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum earlier today.

We have more free agency rumors:

Warriors Sign Nemanja Bjelica

AUGUST 6: The Warriors have officially announced their deal with Bjelica, confirming the move in a press release.

Despite reportedly receiving interest from several other teams willing to offer more than the minimum, Bjelica said his decision to sign with Golden State took “less than a minute,” per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link).


AUGUST 3: Free agent forward Nemanja Bjelica has reached agreement on a one-year contract with the Warriors, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Heat acquired Bjelica from the Kings at the trade deadline in March, but he played in just 11 games for Miami, averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per night. He had been relegated to a bench role in Sacramento after being a starter for the past two seasons.

The 33-year-old gives Golden State another veteran shooting option as they try to move back into title contention. He had the best year of his NBA career in 2019/20 with the Kings, putting up 11.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 2.8 APG on .481/.419/.821 shooting in 72 games (27.9 MPG).

The Warriors still have their taxpayer mid-level exception to make further moves, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, who reports that Bjelica’s deal will be worth the veteran’s minimum (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Beal, James Jones, Butler, Bjelica

Bradley Beal of the Wizards is getting a first-hand look at what a Hall-of-Fame coach looks like, and he’s loving it, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“(Gregg Popovich is) perfect, man,” Beal said. “He’s an awesome coach to be around and his energy, his intensity, it just trickles down to everybody. It’s contagious.”

The timing is interesting, Hughes notes, as the Wizards are currently in the midst of a coaching search. Whomever the Wizards hire will be the third head coach of Beal’s career, and now that Beal has experience playing under Popovich, it will be interesting to see what he makes of the new hire. It’s been reported that Beal will have input in the decision.

We have more notes from around the Southeast Division:

  • In his latest mailbag, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel discusses the question of whether the Heat missed an opportunity by not doing more to keep Suns GM James Jones – 2021’s Executive of the Year – in the Heat organization. It’s unlikely Jones would’ve gotten the same opportunity that he got in Phoenix as quickly in Miami, Winderman concludes.
  • Much has been made of Jimmy Butler‘s combative nature, Winderman writes, but Heat legend Chris Bosh says some of that is the nature of the NBA, and that competitive fire looks different when the team is winning versus when it’s losing. “There’ll always be reports of conflict when the season isn’t that good. The conflict is different. When they’re winning and arguing, it’s great, it’s a great thing,” Bosh said. “What I find is most important, is you have to talk about it. We’re all adults, right?”
  • Winderman also checks in with Heat free agent Nemanja Bjelica on the heels of Serbia’s elimination from the Tokyo Olympic qualifying tournament last weekend on their home floor. “Disaster, it is fair to say, failure,” Bjelica said. “We are always expected to always win. The only thing left is that we wanted to make these people happy. I can only apologize, if it means something. I will take responsibility as a player with the most experience here.”

Rosters Announced For Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Four qualifying tournaments to determine the final four teams in the men’s basketball pool at the Tokyo Olympics are set to tip off on Tuesday. In advance of the Olympic qualifiers, the 24 teams involved have officially set their 12-man rosters, according to a press release from FIBA.

More than two dozen current NBA players are participating in the tournament, and 11 of the 24 teams competing for Olympic spots have at least one current NBA players on their respective rosters. Of those clubs, Team Canada has the biggest contingent of NBA players — eight of the 12 players on Nick Nurse‘s squad finished the season on an NBA roster. Turkey is next with four NBA players.

The four qualifying tournaments will take place in Serbia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Canada. Only the winner of each six-team group will advance to Tokyo. Those four winners will join Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, Iran, France, Spain, Australia, and the U.S. in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

The teams that move onto the Olympics may tweak their rosters for Tokyo, depending on the availability of certain players. For instance, if Greece were to win its qualifying tournament, perhaps Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo – who remains active in the playoffs for now – would make an effort to join the team in Tokyo next month.

Here are the NBA players on the OQT rosters:

Belgrade, Serbia

Kaunas, Lithuania

Split, Croatia

Victoria, Canada

There are also many former NBA players among the 24 rosters, including Mario Hezonja (Croatia), Milos Teodosic (Serbia), Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), Timofey Mozgov (Russia), and Anthony Bennett (Canada).

To view the full rosters, be sure to visit FIBA’s official site and click through to each team from there.

Heat Notes: Olympics, Dedmon, Robinson, Haslem

Nine Heat players spoke to reporters today as part of the team’s end-of-season media availability, and many of those players intend to represent their countries in international play this summer, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald details.

Nigeria, one of the eight countries to have already clinched its spot in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics, has talked to Precious Achiuwa about playing this summer, but he has yet to make a final decision. Teammate Gabe Vincent will train with Nigeria and hopes to make the Olympic roster.

Nemanja Bjelica, meanwhile, plans to play for Serbia at the Tokyo Olympics, while Omer Yurtseven – who signed with the Heat at the end of the season – intends to be part of the Turkish team as the club looks to secure an Olympic berth in next month’s qualifying tournament.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Veteran center Dewayne Dedmon said that he’d like to return to the Heat next season, but added, “That’s up to the people upstairs.” While Miami’s front office would probably reciprocate Dedmon’s interest, given how he played down the stretch, he’ll only have Non-Bird rights, limiting the team’s ability to give him much of a raise beyond the veteran’s minimum, as Jackson notes.
  • Asked about his priorities in free agency, Duncan Robinson offered the following response: “First and foremost, a fit, a place I can really feel comfortable. Winning is a priority for me. And also a business and there’s an opportunity to take care of people that I love.” Robinson will be a restricted free agent, so the Heat will have the ability to match if he signs an offer sheet.
  • Udonis Haslem remains undecided on whether he’ll retire or return to the Heat for 2021/22, but he made it clear he doesn’t take his spot on the roster for granted, as Jackson writes. “I don’t have an offseason. I’m 40 years old. If I have an offseason, I might as well retire,” Haslem said. “Straight from the season to back in the gym. I’m calling Bam (Adebayo); his (butt) is coming with me. I’m calling Precious. He’s coming with me.” Haslem added that he doesn’t have interest in coaching, but suggested he wants to eventually own part of a franchise, according to Jackson.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Southeast Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southeast Division:

Nemanja Bjelica, Heat, 32, PF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $20.5MM deal in 2018

There was a lot of bellyaching in Sacramento this season when Bjelica’s minutes were basically handed to Marvin Bagley III, as the Kings evaluated whether to make the 2018 No. 2 overall pick part of their long-term plans. Bjelica didn’t play for a month until injuries forced the Kings’ hands in February. He got a fresh start with Miami when it acquired him at the trade deadline. It hasn’t worked out.

Bjelica has been a non-factor while playing spot minutes. His 3-point shooting has tanked without steady playing time and that’s his top asset. Bjelica might wind up back in Europe unless he’s willing to accept a second-unit role at a much lower salary than he’s made the last three seasons.

Daniel Gafford, Wizards, 22, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $6.1MM deal in 2019

When NBA analysts look at which trade deadline acquisitions have made the biggest impact, no one would have guessed that Gafford would be at or near the top of the list. He’s limited offensively but on his best nights, he’s a ferocious rebounder and shot-blocker.

Gafford is averaging 10.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 2.0 BPG in 17.9 MPG for a team that has been decimated by frontcourt injuries. His $1.78MM salary for next season doesn’t fully guarantee until next January. The Wizards hold a $1.93MM option on the 2022/23 season. Rest assured, Washington will keep Gafford around.

John Collins, Hawks, 23, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $11MM deal in 2017

Collins could be the most intriguing free agent on the market this summer. The Hawks can make him a restricted free agency by extending him a $7.7MM qualifying offer. That’s a safe assumption. From there, things will get very interesting. Collins’ name was bandied about in trade rumors this winter – he reportedly turned down a $90MM extension offer with the hope of getting the max, or something close to it, in restricted free agency. Does any other team value Collins as a max-type player? We’ll find out when the market opens.

James Ennis, Magic, 30, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $3.33MM deal in 2020

The Magic brought back Ennis on a one-year deal for a team with playoff aspirations. Ennis was a starter the first half of the season until the front office decided to hit the reset button. With Orlando in total rebuild mode, Ennis will be seeking a new team this summer.

With the Magic focusing on their youth, Ennis hasn’t played this month, supposedly due to a sore calf. He’s passed through seven teams during his seven seasons in the league. Ennis will likely be looking at a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal for a club seeking insurance at small forward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kings Trade Nemanja Bjelica To Heat

8:06pm: The trade for Bjelica is now official, per a Heat press release.


11:46am: The Heat and Kings are finalizing a trade that will send forward Nemanja Bjelica to Miami, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Sacramento will receive Maurice Harkless and Chris Silva in the deal, Woj adds (via Twitter).

The Heat have been linked to the stretch four for several weeks. They could have fit Bjelica’s $7.15MM salary into a $7.5MM trade exception, which expired on Monday. Instead, Heat president Pat Riley opted to send out players in order to stay below the luxury tax line. Harkless has an expiring $3.623MM contract and Silva is making $1.52MM. There’s a $1.78MM team option attached to Silva’s contract for next season.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (Twitter link), Miami stays $3.3MM below the tax line and also opens up a roster spot in the two-for-one transaction. Sacramento will have to waive or trade a player to accommodate the extra incoming player.

Bjelica’s role was greatly diminished this season as the new front office and coach Luke Walton made Marvin Bagley III the starter at power forward following an injury-plagued season until he fractured his hand this month.

The 32-year-old Serbian has only appeared in 26 games this season, averaging 7.2 PPG and 3.8 RPG. He had a career year last season, averaging 11.5 PPG and 6.4 RPG in 72 games, including 67 starts. He’s a career 38.7% shooter from 3-point range.

Bjelica’s 3-point threat will likely make him a rotation player for the Heat the remainder of this season. They can then decide whether to re-sign the unrestricted free agent or let him walk to create additional cap flexibility. They’ll have his Bird rights and can go over the cap to re-sign him.

Harkless and Silva only appeared in 11 games apiece this season. They’ll get a fresh start in Sacramento, unless the Kings opt to waive one or both of them.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Brogdon, Ball, K. Williams, Bjelica

A Tuesday report stated that the Pacers are listening to inquiries on Malcolm Brogdon, and Chris Mannix of SI.com wrote today that the Hawks have had discussions about the guard. However, Brogdon won’t be dealt this week, two sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required). Still, Indiana is worth keeping an eye on, as the club has underperformed to some extent this season.

Multiples sources tell Michael that Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren, who has strong relationships with Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis, can be “too much of a micro-manager,” while another source suggested that’s to be expected for a first-year head coach who is still learning the ropes.

There’s no indication that Bjorkgren’s job is in any jeopardy, but the coaching staff may receive an offseason shake-up, Michael reports. In the meantime, it’s unclear if the Pacers will make any deadline moves — their plan as of a few weeks ago was to stand pat and wait for Caris LeVert to round into form and T.J. Warren to get healthy, says Michael.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA: