Nemanja Bjelica

International Notes: EuroBasket, Dragic, Bjelica, Satoransky, Prigioni

Europe’s largest basketball tournament will tip off Thursday morning for the first time in five years. EuroBasket 2022 will feature more than 30 NBA players, including stars such as Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Rudy Gobert.

Twenty-four teams are involved, with four nations hosting preliminary games, leading up to the gold medal contest Sept. 18 in Berlin, Germany. The tournament used to be held every two years, but it was switched to four-year intervals beginning in 2017. It was delayed an extra year because the Olympics had to be pushed back from 2020 to 2021 due to COVID-19.

Slovenia is the defending champion, with Goran Dragic earning MVP honors in 2017. He didn’t play internationally last year, but has returned to help defend the title, according to Eurohoops.

“A challenging tournament is ahead of us, which we are all looking forward to,” Dragic said. “The championship will be one of the most even ever, as most of the national teams have their strongest possible rosters. As professional athletes, we naturally prefer to play against the best. This gives us additional momentum and presents us with a great challenge. We trained well, the team is ready and we can’t wait for the opening match against Lithuania.”

A full schedule for the event, including the opening matchup between Bulgaria and Spain, is available at ESPN.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Nemanja Bjelica, who played for the Warriors last season, was left off Serbia’s EuroBasket roster because of an injured calf, per Eurohoops. Bjelica missed last week’s FIBA World Cup Qualifiers with the same injury, which he suffered in mid-August. Serbia, led by Jokic, is considered one of the top teams in the tournament even without Bjelica.
  • A final decision on Tomas Satoransky‘s availability for the Czech team won’t be announced until Thursday, sources tell Eurohoops. A health official from the Wizards, whom Satoransky ended last season with, was in Prague to help with his recovery from ligament damage to his right ankle.
  • Timberwolves assistant and former NBA guard Pablo Prigioni has been named head coach of Argentina’s national team, Eurohoops relays. “My feeling for the National Team is big, as is my commitment to this group,” Prigioni stated in a press release. “The Argentina shirt is the most important thing. We are focused, staff and players, on giving our best in the tournament that lies ahead.” His first challenge will be the AmeriCup tournament, which begins Friday in Brazil.

And-Ones: Bjelica, Offseason Business, 2023 Draft, More

Serbian forward Nemanja Bjelica has been ruled out for this week’s World Cup qualifiers due to a calf injury and is considered questionable for the upcoming EuroBasket tournament, as Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops details.

Bjelica, who signed with Turkish club Fenerbahce this offseason after winning a title with Golden State, will miss Serbia’s contest against Greece today, as well as Sunday’s game vs. Turkey. Serbia’s EuroBasket schedule will tip off on Friday, September 2 against the Netherlands.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • With the Kevin Durant saga settled, at least for now, John Hollinger of The Athletic considers what leftover offseason business we could see addressed in the coming weeks. The Lakers, Pacers, Jazz, Heat, Raptors, and Nets are among the teams that may still have some roster moves to make, Hollinger writes.
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report shares scouting reports for his top 15 prospects in the 2023 NBA draft class, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of players like Texas big man Dillon Mitchell and Duke center Dereck Lively in addition to the usual suspects like Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson.
  • Exactly how much does an NBA win cost? Mike Vorkunov and Seth Partnow of The Athletic make an effort to answer that question, with Partnow outlining a “wins/dollars efficiency model” and then explaining why such a model has its shortcomings.
  • Katie Heindl of takes a look at how the NBA has increased the diversity in its coaching ranks without the need for a rule like the NFL’s “Rooney Rule.”

International Notes: Howard, Bjelica, Ataman, Yabusele

The opportunity to earn guaranteed money was behind Markus Howard‘s decision to sign with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in the EuroLeague, he explained on the Role Player Podcast. Howard spent the past two seasons with the Nuggets on a two-way contract, and although he had two-way offers from other NBA teams, he opted for more security in Europe.

“Two years, that’s what I was saying,” Howard explained of his commitment to the NBA. “Because honestly I could have taken a two-way with a lot of teams now and maybe had more chances to play. Maybe. But at the end of the day, I’m not going through what I went through in Denver. I ain’t doing that again. I have a family. It’s not just me. … I want to earn my keep. I want to feel like I earned what I get.”

Howard appeared in 31 games last season and 37 games as a rookie, but he only averaged 5.6 minutes per night. He became frustrated by the inconsistent playing time and the constant uncertainty about his NBA future.

“I don’t look the part,” said Howard, who’s only 5’10”. “So they have no problem throwing you to the side. … Being in college for four years, you don’t get comfortable, but you understand where you are in your position on a team. In the NBA, you never know and you’re walking on tippy toes. For me, just having that mindset every day, like I could be gone.”

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Former Warriors forward Nemanja Bjelica, who signed with Fenerbahce last week, may have to miss the EuroBasket tournament because of a calf injury, according to a Eurohoops report. He was hurt this week on a non-contact play in Serbia’s exhibition game with Montenegro.
  • Ergin Ataman of Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, the reigning Coach of the Year in the EuroLeague, was rumored for NBA assistant jobs this summer but said the prospect doesn’t excite him, writes Bugra Uzar of Eurohoops“My goal to go to the NBA has decreasing chances because I see that the NBA is a different world,” Ataman said. “Their perspective of basketball head coaches in Europe is very different. No European coach has ever gone from Europe to the NBA as a head coach. There is no NBA history, zero.”
  • Guerschon Yabusele, who spent two seasons with the Celtics, talks to Eurohoops about the joy he gets from being a starter with Real Madrid and the French national team.

Nemanja Bjelica Signs Two-Year Deal With Fenerbahce

In a move that has been rumored for nearly six weeks, Nemanja Bjelica has signed with Fenerbahce in Turkey, the team announced (via Twitter). His contract will cover two seasons, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.

After winning a championship with the Warriors last season, the 34-year-old forward returns to Europe, joining the team he played for before deciding to join the NBA in 2015. He was named EuroLeague MVP that season and helped Fenerbahce reach the league’s Final Four for the first time in history.

Bjelica was a rotation player for Golden State during the regular season, averaging 6.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 71 games while playing 16.1 minutes per night. His role diminished somewhat in the playoffs, although he still appeared in 15 games during the Warriors’ title run.

Golden State reportedly wanted to bring him back on a minimum contract, but Bjelica opted to take the Fenerbahce offer, which gives him similar money and a larger role.

The Wizards selected Bjelica with the 35th pick in the 2010 draft and traded him to the Timberwolves on draft night. He played seven NBA seasons, also spending time with the Kings and Heat. He is currently in training camp with the Serbian national team in preparation for EuroBasket.

Warriors Notes: Green, Roster Openings, Wiggins, Poole, Durant, Lacob

JaMychal Green officially became a free agent on Friday when he cleared waivers. That opens up a path for Green to sign with the Warriors. He’ll provide necessary depth at forward, since Golden State lost Otto Porter Jr. to Toronto and Nemanja Bjelica decided to play in Europe. Green is a proven 3-point threat and can guard multiple positions, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes.

We have more on the Warriors:

  • In the same story, Slater indicates Golden State will likely guarantee only 14 roster spots heading into training camp. Green would fill the 12th spot and rookie Ryan Rollins is expected to sign a multi-year contract. Andre Iguodala could fill the 14th spot if he doesn’t retire.
  • The Nets are not “super high” on Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole as centerpieces of a deal for Kevin Durant, Zach Lowe of ESPN said on his podcast (hat tip to Ali Thanawalla of Yahoo Sports). That’s one reason why a deal with Golden State didn’t gain traction, even though it had some picks to dangle. “I don’t know if there ever really was a deal there that the Nets would have done. Obviously, you have to explore it if you’re the Warriors,” Lowe said. It’s also worth noting that Brooklyn wouldn’t be able to acquire Wiggins this season as long as Ben Simmons is still on the team.
  • Owner Joe Lacob made his case with fellow team owners at the recent Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas that tax penalties should be reduced when teams re-sign players they drafted, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack article. Three of Golden State’s four highest-paid players — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — were draft picks that have only played for one team.

Nemanja Bjelica Agrees To Deal With Fenerbahce

After winning a title with the Warriors this season, veteran forward Nemanja Bjelica is headed back to Europe.

Bjelica has agreed to sign a two-year contract with Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, according to a report from Ugur Ozan Sulak of (Twitter link). The deal will have a total net value of about $4MM, per Johnny Askounis and Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.

Golden State had been interested in re-signing Bjelica to a minimum-salary contract, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link), but were informed today that he’d be leaving the NBA for one of his former teams overseas. Before he arrived in the NBA, Bjelica played for Fenerbahce for two seasons from 2013-15, earning EuroLeague MVP honors in ’15.

After spending six NBA in Minnesota, Sacramento, and Miami from 2015-21, Bjelica joined the Warriors for his seventh season and made 71 regular season appearances for the club this past year, averaging 6.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 2.2 APG with a .362 3PT% in 16.1 minutes per game.

Having won an NBA championship for the first time, the 34-year-old presumably liked the idea of returning to the EuroLeague, where he’ll earn a similar salary and have a far more significant role.

Otto Porter, Gary Harris, T.J. Warren Among Lakers’ Potential FA Targets

The Lakers‘ options on the free agent market this week will likely be limited, since the team will only be able to offer the $6.5MM taxpayer mid-level exception or a minimum-salary contract to potential targets. However, as Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes, the team will still aim high, hoping to sell players on the opportunity to start and the ability to increase their stock with a strong year in Los Angeles, like Malik Monk did in 2021/22.

According to Buha, youth, length, athleticism, and shooting are among the traits the Lakers will be prioritizing. Two-way wings who could come in and potentially start alongside Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook will be a priority, sources tell The Athletic.

Here are some details on the types of players the Lakers will be eyeing in free agency:

Warriors Notes: Iguodala, Payton, Porter, Front Office

Warriors wing Andre Iguodala isn’t prepared to say whether or not he intends to continue his NBA career beyond this season, writes Mark Medina of

“We’ll wait until we see how it ends. It can go either way with wins or losses,”  Iguodala told Medina. “I know my answer. But I don’t want to put it out in the world. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

Due to a left cervical disc injury, Iguodala hasn’t seen any action since Game 4 of the Warriors’ first-round series vs. Denver. He made it through practice on Wednesday without restrictions and said he’s “doing everything I need to do around the clock” in an effort to be available for the NBA Finals, according to Medina.

For now, Iguodala is listed as questionable for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, as are Gary Payton II (left elbow fracture) and Otto Porter Jr. (left foot soreness), per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Like Iguodala, Payton and Porter took contact in Wednesday’s practice. The Warriors will announce closer to game time whether the three veterans will be active for Thursday’s contest.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • In an interesting story for The Athletic, Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II examine some of the new additions the Warriors have made to their front office in recent years and the role those individuals played in many of the moves that have worked out for the team. Executive director of basketball analytics Pabail Sidhu, for instance, leads the team’s “refurbished” analytics department that identified Porter and Nemanja Bjelica as preferred free agent targets last summer.
  • Speaking to Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Draymond Green expressed appreciation for the opportunity to once again be playing in the NBA Finals after two tough seasons. “I have a much larger appreciation for it now than I did (from 2015-19) because it was kind of all I knew,” Green said.
  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic and ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne (Insider link) revisit two trades that played important parts in getting the Warriors to where they are today: the 2019 sign-and-trade acquisition of D’Angelo Russell, and the subsequent deal that flipped Russell to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins and the first-round pick that became Jonathan Kuminga. If Golden State hadn’t turned Kevin Durant‘s departure for Brooklyn into a sign-and-trade deal for Russell, the team would’ve lost a maximum-salary slot and that second trade for Wiggins wouldn’t have been possible.
  • In case you missed it, Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said the team’s rising payroll won’t impede a new deal for Jordan Poole. Our full story is here.

Warriors Notes: Curry, Thompson, Veterans, Make-Up Game

The season is unraveling for the Warriors at a really bad time, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Golden State fell to the Lakers Saturday night, extending its losing streak to four games for the first time this season. The team has fallen into third place in the Western Conference after going 2-8 in its last 10 games, and Stephen Curry understands that something needs to change.

“We cannot give in to this losing mentality,” he said. “We’re not that team, and I’m not going to let us be that team. … We cannot give in to this losing spirit of just finding different ways to lose basketball games. We have 18 games left, we have to figure out how to turn things around pretty quick.”

The Warriors are dealing with a variety of issue, with the most notable being the absence of Draymond Green, who hasn’t played since January 9 but hopes to be back in “a couple weeks.” However, the problems go beyond Green, Andrews adds, as Golden State has been struggling with missed free throws, a drop in bench production and executing late in games, which coach Steve Kerr blamed for Saturday’s loss.

“I thought we had several chances to really break this game open,” Kerr said. “This has kind of been a pattern during this bad spell for us. We are not stepping on teams when they are down. We are making mistakes and allowing teams to hang around. And when you do that in this league, you’re dead.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Another concern is a shooting slump by Klay Thompson, who is going through his worst stretch since returning from a long injury-related layoff, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Thompson was just 3-of-13 Saturday night, including an important miss on a wide open three in the final two minutes. “Klay’s pressing,” Kerr said. “He got into a pretty good groove over the month or so before the All-Star break, and I feel like the sickness, the illness that kept him out of a couple of games probably affected his conditioning and his timing. So, he struggled the last two games. He’ll get it back.”
  • The Warriors are getting quality minutes from their young players, but many of the veterans they signed during the offseason aren’t producing right now, Slater adds. Andre Iguodala has only played one six-minute stretch since January 20, Nemanja Bjelica is losing his spot in the rotation and Otto Porter Jr. hasn’t been the same since January ended.
  • Kerr expressed frustration over the league’s decision to schedule a make-up game Monday at Denver and said he won’t have Curry, Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and possibly a few other players make the trip, according to Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. “We are not sending a lot of our players to Denver,” Kerr said. “The decision was pretty easy. Throwing that game (originally scheduled for December 30) into the schedule the way the league did after that game was postponed and then going back to Denver — three games in four nights, with two of those games being back and forth, we’re not gonna put our high-minutes guys at risk.” 

Warriors Notes: Poole, Wiggins, Klay, Lesser-Paid Players

At 29-7, the Warriors have the best record in the NBA, a half-game ahead of the Suns. One key to the team’s success this season has been the maturation and development of third-year guard Jordan Poole, who’s being groomed to become Golden State’s new sixth man, as Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic detail.

Poole’s situation on the club is unique, in that he’s the only young player to have a consistent rotational role. He describes the dynamic as being akin to a middle-child.

The dynamic is what you see,” Poole said. “I’m not the youngest. I’ve been around for a little bit, but I’m kind of like the only one in the middle of the pack. The older bros have been through it. Sometimes we’re gonna throw you with the young guys, sometimes you can come with us. Essentially, it’s the middle-child treatment.”

Slater and Thompson write that Poole is known for having an excellent work ethic; the Warriors have data showing he’s in the gym more than any player on the team. Veteran Andre Iguodala, the team’s former sixth man, has taken Poole under his wing. As a third-year former first-round pick (28th overall in the 2019 draft), Poole is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

The new sixth man is getting $20 million a year,” Iguodala said. “That’s the bottom offer for a guy like that, the Tyler Herros and Jordan Pooles. You got those few guys who are starters but for teams they are on, they’re sixth men. You don’t have a problem with going above and beyond taking care of them because you know they’ll be a staple player for your franchise.”

In 30 games (28 starts) this season, Poole is averaging 18.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists in 30.1 minutes per contest. He also sports a .454/.348/.887 shooting line, good for a 59.3 true shooting percentage.

Here’s more on the Warriors: