Nemanja Bjelica

And-Ones: Brown, 3-Point Contest, Glass Floor, Bjelica

The All-Star dunk contest has lost its star power in recent years. That could change this month. The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown is strongly considering accepting an invitation to participate, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Charania said Brown has been “mulling over the possibility for several weeks.”

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • A star-laden cast is lining up for the All-Star weekend’s 3-point contest. Tyrese Haliburton, Damian Lillard, Malik Beasley, Jalen Brunson and Lauri Markkanen have agreed to participate, Charania tweets. The same goes for Tyrese Maxey, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT tweets. Donovan Mitchell has also added his name to the list, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.
  • The entire All-Star Saturday night lineup will be played on a full video LED court that will be installed at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The skills competition, 3-point contest, slam dunk competition and shooting matchup between Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu will take place on the glass floor on Feb. 17. The All-Star Game on Feb. 18 will remain on a wooden court.
  • Former NBA player Nemanja Bjelica was allegedly threatened to be stabbed with scissors, relays. Nikola Petkovic, a former soccer player, confronted Bjelica in a children’s playroom in Belgrade, according to multiple Serbian outlets, and threatened Bjelica and his famly. Petkovic was arrested and detained for 48 hours. Bjelica, a member of the Warriors’ 2022 championship team, hasn’t played this season.

Nemanja Bjelica Signs With Serbian Team

SEPTEMBER 12: Fenerbahce has formally parted ways with Bjelica (Twitter link), clearing the way for him to sign a one-year deal with Crvena Zvezda, which is also now official, per the team (Twitter link).

SEPTEMBER 11: Former NBA big man Nemanja Bjelica appears to have an agreement to join Crvena Zvezda in the Serbian League, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. The move was first reported by Serbian media outlet Meridian Sport.

Bjelica, 35, played for Crvena Zvezda early in his career before coming to the NBA. He signed a two-year deal with Turkish power Fenerbahce last summer, but a calf injury kept him on the sidelines until early March and limited him to seven games. He was told last month that he’s not in the club’s plans for the upcoming season.

Bjelica last played in the NBA during the 2021/22 season, appearing in 71 games as a reserve for the Warriors. He averaged 6.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16.1 minutes per night and played an important role off the bench in Golden State’s championship run.

The Wizards selected Bjelica with the 35th pick in 2010 and sent his rights to the Timberwolves in a draft night trade. He spent five more years in Europe before joining Minnesota for the start of the 2015/16 season.

He signed with the Kings in 2018 and was sent to the Heat at the 2021 trade deadline before inking a deal with the Warriors that summer. He appeared in 449 total games with four teams, making 162 starts and averaging 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for his NBA career.

Bjelica was a highly decorated player in Europe and earned EuroLeague MVP honors in 2015. He has also been a longtime member of the Serbian national team and won a silver medal at EuroBasket in 2009.

International Notes: Bjelica, Calathes, Pullen, Larkin, Wilbekin

Fenerbahce’s general manager says he has informed former NBA players Nemanja Bjelica and Nick Calathes that they aren’t in the Turkish club’s plans for 2023/24, despite both players being under contract, as Alessandro Maggi of Sportando relays.

Bjelica, 35, played seven NBA seasons, most recently helping the Warriors win the championship in 2021/22. He signed a two-year deal with Fenerbahce last summer, but the veteran forward was limited to seven EuroLeague games in ’22/23 due to a calf injury, Maggi writes.

Calathes appeared in 129 games with the Grizzlies from 2013-15. The 34-year-old has spent most of his professional career overseas, primarily with Greece’s Panathinaikos, though he has also played for teams in Russia, Spain and Turkey. The veteran guard averaged 8.2 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.2 RPG and 1.1 SPG in 34 EuroLeague contests with Fenerbahce in ’22/23.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Former Sixers two-way guard Jacob Pullen, who played three games with Philadelphia in the ’17/18 season, has signed a one-year contract with Italy’s Napoli Basket, the team announced in a press release. The 33-year-old is a well-traveled veteran, having played in Kuwait last season after spending most of his career in Europe.
  • Shane Larkin and Scottie Wilbekin failed to report to the Turkish national team during the 2024 Olympic pre-qualifying tournament earlier this month, which saw Turkey lose to Croatia in the final. As such, the Turkish Basketball Federation has fined both guards approximately 3,000 Euros and suspended them for five games apiece during the upcoming Turkish Super League season, per Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. Both players are eligible to represent Turkey in international tournaments because they’re naturalized citizens, though each team only has one naturalized slot in FIBA events. Larkin, who currently plays for Anadolu Efes, appeared in 256 NBA regular season games from 2013-18. Wilbekin, meanwhile, plays for Fenerbahce. He signed a partially guaranteed deal with the Sixers in 2015, but never appeared for Philadelphia, having been waived before ’15/16 started.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along several World Cup notes this afternoon.

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: