Former Olympiacos star Sasha Vezenkov decided to come stateside for the 2023/24 season, signing a three-year, $20MM contract with the Kings, who held his draft rights. At his introductory press conference on Thursday, Vezenkov said the team’s months-long pursuit to sign him played a factor in his decision, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee relays.
“I’m really happy, really excited,” Vezenkov said. “It was a big decision for my career and I’m really happy to do it for Sacramento. I’m really thankful to the organization because throughout the last year, they came overseas. They show me their commitment. They show me how much they want me to be here and I’m really happy.”
The reigning EuroLeague MVP had a lot of success playing with Olympiacos, winning back-to-back domestic titles the past two seasons and losing the EuroLeague final to Real Madrid by one point in 2022/23. The Kings’ success last season — winning 48 games and breaking their 16-year playoff drought — was another reason the Bulgarian forward wanted to join the team, according to James Ham of TheKingsBeat.com.
“I like to win,” Vezenkov said. “That’s why we play basketball — to enjoy, to win games. This helped in my decision. As we saw last year, the Kings were a fantastic team, playing beautiful basketball, but most importantly, winning.”
Here’s more on the Kings:
- Adjusting to the pace, space, and athleticism of the NBA can sometimes be a challenge for European players, especially right away. But Vezenkov is confident he’ll make an impact with Sacramento and believes it will be a good fit, per Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net. The 28-year-old sharpshooter said it was a “dream” to play in the league. “The NBA was like a goal, a dream for me,” Vezenkov said. “Every kid who plays in Europe wants to come to the NBA. … I am here to help with my experience, with whatever coach needs from me for this team to continue to win games and perform better and better.”
- Ham of TheKingsBeat recently touched on Malik Monk‘s contract situation in an appearance on ESPN 1320’s D-Lo & KC show (Twitter video link). Monk, who is entering the final year of his deal, will only have Early Bird rights in 2024 after signing a two-year contract with the Kings, and he is not extension-eligible. That means Sacramento will be somewhat limited in what it can offer him in free agency next summer, Ham notes. After a solid regular season as the team’s sixth man, Monk had a breakout performance in Sacramento’s first-round playoff loss to Golden State, averaging 19.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 3.6 APG in seven games (29.3 MPG).
- Veteran center JaVale McGee is reportedly signing a one-year, fully guaranteed minimum-salary contract to join the Kings after being waived by Dallas. He’s expected to compete for minutes behind Domantas Sabonis, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, who writes that McGee has the trust of head coach Mike Brown, as they won a pair of championships together with Golden State. McGee’s mother also played for Sacramento’s WNBA team, the Monarchs, Amick adds.