Sasha Vezenkov

Kings Notes: Vezenkov, Monk, McGee

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

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 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.

Western Notes: Kings, Brooks, Jones, Lillard, Timberwolves

The Kings decided to tweak the roster rather than make major changes this offseason after finally reaching the postseason in the spring. They acquired Chris Duarte in a trade and re-signed Harrison Barnes and Trey Lyles. They also signed EuroLeague star Sasha Vezenkov.

Kings coach Mike Brown is excited to have his core group back and is eager to see how they respond to the newfound respect they’ve gained after snapping the franchise’s long playoff drought.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how we can handle the pressure,” the Kings coach said. “It’s flipped now. We’re no longer hunting people; people are hunting us. And there are expectations, so how do we handle that? I believe our guys are ready for it, and with the fans that we have here and the juice they brought last year – let’s go. Let’s get it. I’m excited for Sasha, I’m excited for Chris Duarte, I’m excited about our young guys. It’s good to have the new guys, but I’m more excited about having our guys to be able to run it back and give them the opportunity to grow as a nucleus than anything else.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Grizzlies allowed Dillon Brooks in free agency and traded Tyus Jones. So what have they lost? Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal explores that topic. The Grizzlies have become known for their flashy style and trash talking and Brooks was a major reason for that. Jones was a locker room leader and led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio in each of his four seasons with the club.
  • Trail Blazers fans want the Damian Lillard saga to be resolved soon. In a poll conducted by Jason Quick of The Athletic, 80.4% want the front office to take the best offer for their longtime All-Star and prioritize the team ahead of Lillard. However, the high-scoring guard was voted as the franchise’s greatest player (51.9%), ahead of Clyde Drexler and Bill Walton.
  • Anthony Edwards (United States), Karl-Anthony Towns (Dominican Republic), Rudy Gobert (France), Kyle Anderson (China), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Canada) and draft-and-stash prospect Matteo Spagnolo (Italy) are participating in the World Cup, while Luka Garza played for Bosnia and Herzegovina in a pre-qualifying Olympic tournament. That should give those Timberwolves players a head start to the NBA season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Alexander-Walker agrees with the notion. “I want to use it to propel me for the season,” he said.

Kings’ McNair: Decision To Retain Roster Provides ‘Runway’ To Future Success

While many around the league suspected the Kings were gearing up for a major free agency acquisition entering July, Sacramento ended up largely using its cap space to retain its core. On the night of the 2023 NBA draft, the Kings traded Richaun Holmes and the No. 24 overall pick to the Mavericks to create cap space, which they used to re-sign Harrison Barnes to a three-year, $54MM contract and then later renegotiate and extend Domantas Sabonis on a five-year, $217MM deal.

Sacramento general manager Monte McNair sat down with The Athletic’s Anthony Slater and Sam Amick to discuss the Kings’ decision to retain their core and why he’s higher on their offseason moves than outsiders might be.

“(I’m) not saying that we won’t look at upgrades (or that) we didn’t,” McNair said. “Because we certainly explored all those options. But knowing that one of our options was going to be to bring the bulk of our team back (was appealing).

After making the decision to trade Tyrese Haliburton to the Pacers for Sabonis at the 2022 trade deadline, the Kings spent the subsequent summer trying to build a playoff contender that would end the club’s then-16-year playoff drought. Sacramento drafted Keegan Murray, a 22-year-old rookie who stepped into the rotation right away, and acquired Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter to surround De’Aaron Fox and Sabonis.

What followed was a 48-win season that resulted in the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, ending the Kings’ playoff drought. This summer was quieter for McNair — the Kings drafted Colby Jones and Jalen Slawson, signed Sasha Vezenkov and Nerlens Noel, and traded for Chris Duarte.

Although Sacramento didn’t make a major splash, McNair believes the addition of Vezenkov is a significant one. The Kings acquired the 2023 EuroLeague MVP along with cash from Cleveland last summer for the No. 49 overall pick in the 2022 draft. While Sacramento wasn’t sure at the time if Vezenkov would ever end up in the NBA, McNair believes the team’s stellar play helped convince him to come stateside. Vezenkov signed a three-year, $20MM deal this offseason.

McNair said that he understands the muted reaction from outsiders, but that the Kings were extremely high on Vezenkov for a while and that he’s going to turn some heads.

A lot of people hear ‘international’ and they don’t know them, and then they come over and all of a sudden it’s (Nikola) Mirotic or it’s the Bogdanovics (Bogdan and Bojan) or (Nemanja) Bjelica,” McNair said. “Or you can obviously go back to the Pejas and Turkoglus (former Kings Peja Stojakovic and Hedo Turkoglu). And once they’re over here, then people get excited about them. But I think people will be surprised, just because they don’t know him very well and what he can do.

The Kings aren’t just banking on Vezenkov, Duarte, and the other additions to help the team improve, according to McNair. Sacramento is extraordinarily high on Murray, who showed promising upside in his first season after averaging 12.2 points in 80 games last season along with starting in all seven of the club’s playoff games. Murray also set the record for threes made by a rookie with 206.

Murray played in the California Classic this summer and turned heads rather quickly with a 41-point outing in a game against the Heat. McNair believes Murray’s ongoing development is a key to unlocking another level for the Kings.

We know we need Keegan to take another step,” McNair said. “And one of the ways he can do that is to be more of a second or third option as opposed to a fourth or fifth option. And it’s hard to do that when you have two all-NBA guys, right? Then you have Kevin Huerter and Harrison Barnes. So you know, it may take some time for him to do that within the natural flow.

While the Kings’ offseason moves signal a desire to remain in the upper echelon of Western Conference teams, McNair explained that these transactions were as much about preserving future flexibility as they were about staying competitive in the short term. The Holmes trade didn’t just allow for the Kings to bring back Barnes and extend Sabonis — it also freed up $12.8MM in 2024. Every major piece of Sacramento’s rotation is under team control beyond next season except for Monk and Alex Len. That extra $12.8MM of breathing room could put the team in position to bring those pieces back or replace them.

Additionally, the Kings only owe one first-round pick, a lottery protected 2024 first-rounder to Atlanta. Outside of that, the club has a full treasure chest of draft assets and tradable contracts to help facilitate a future move, according to McNair.

McNair understands that the Kings had extraordinary luck with health last season and that other Western teams improved this offseason, but he’s sold on what his team can achieve moving forward.

One mistake you can make in this league is thinking your path will be linear,” McNair said. “We know it’s not going to be a straight line where we just continue to take one step at a time. Hopefully we’re taking major steps forward. But if there’s other road blocks or adversity in the way, you have to have the ability to pivot off of that, whether it’s a better fit or talent. So for us, we feel not just set up this year, but we have plenty of room to the tax line for trades (if needed).

Slater and Amick touch base on more topics with McNair, so I recommend checking out the article in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber.

Contract Details: Exum, Vezenkov, Stevens

Dante Exum‘s new deal with the Mavericks was initially reported to be a one-year, minimum-salary agreement, but the terms were adjusted between July 1 – when the two sides struck a deal – and today, when it was made official.

According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), Exum ended up signing a two-year, $6.15MM contract that is non-guaranteed for the second season. It will be worth $3MM in 2023/24 and $3.15MM in ’24/25, with this year’s salary coming out of the Mavericks’ mid-level exception.

Giving Exum a portion of the MLE wouldn’t have been possible if the Mavericks’ offer sheet for Matisse Thybulle had been successful, since Thybulle would have received $10.5MM of the $12.4MM mid-level. Once Portland matched Dallas’ offer for Thybulle, the Mavs’ MLE fully freed up, allowing the team to renegotiate its deal with Exum.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Mavs also use a chunk of the mid-level to complete their reported agreement with Seth Curry, who was initially expected to be signed using the bi-annual exception. Signing Curry with the MLE would preserve the BAE for 2024/25.

Here are a couple more contract-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Sasha Vezenkov‘s three-year contract with the Kings comes in just below $20MM, Hoops Rumors has learned — its exact value is $19,975,609, including a $6,341,464 starting salary in 2023/24. As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets, the first two years of Vezenkov’s deal are guaranteed, while the third is a team option (worth $6,975,609).
  • As part of the trade that sent him from Cleveland to the Spurs, Lamar Stevens had his minimum salary partially guaranteed for $400K, tweets Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Stevens also had his salary guarantee deadline moved up from January 7 to July 17, so San Antonio will have to decide in the coming days whether or not to fully guarantee the forward’s 2023/24 cap hit.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along contract details on a few other recently reported deals on Thursday.

Pacific Notes: Vincent, Gordon, Vezenkov, Jackson-Davis

Discussing his move from Miami to Los Angeles, Gabe Vincent said that he was “honored (the Lakers) reached out to me” when he became a free agent, as Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group (subscription required) writes.

After earning the minimum salary during his first four seasons in the NBA, Vincent received a considerable raise as a free agent this summer and will make $11MM annually on his new three-year deal with the Lakers. Despite the substantial pay bump, the 27-year-old is ready to accept whatever role the team he wants him to play, big or small.

“I’m just here to add on,” Vincent said. “They have a great core, a great situation, and hopefully I can just add to it and help us bring home a championship.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • After falling short of an NBA title during his time in Houston, Suns guard Eric Gordon is bullish about his chances of contending for a championship with his new team, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Gordon took a significant pay cut, agreeing to a minimum-salary deal with Phoenix. “I’m older in my career so I’ve played for a long time and money is not always such an issue,” Gordon said. “Of course, I want a lot more, don’t get me wrong. But at the end of the day, I want to do well here every year that I’m here and we’ll just see what happens down the line, but that’s why I want to come here, win a championship.”
  • Although Sasha Vezenkov has officially signed his contract with the Kings, who submitted it to the NBA’s league office, the forward is still awaiting a letter of clearance from FIBA in order for that contract to become legally binding, a source tells Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. That’s expected to happen soon, at which point the Kings will officially announce the signing.
  • After missing the Warriors‘ first three Las Vegas Summer League games due to a right hamstring injury, second-round pick Trayce Jackson-Davis made his debut on Thursday, scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 20 minutes. C.J. Holmes of The San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at what Golden State is getting in Jackson-Davis, a mature 23-year-old rookie who may nonetheless find minutes hard to come by in his first NBA season.

Sasha Vezenkov Signs Three-Year Deal With Kings

JULY 13: The signing of Vezenkov is now official, per the NBA’s transactions log.

JULY 1: EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov is signing a three-year, $20MM contract with the Kings, who held his draft rights, his agents tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Reports over the past couple months have indicated that Sacramento was determined to bring Vezenkov stateside and would renew contract talks with the European star once they were permitted to following the draft. Harry Stavrou of Greek outlet reported last week that the Kings offered the European star a contract for “slightly lower” than the $8.4MM Keegan Murray will make in 2023/24, and that figure turned out to be accurate.

Given his reported salary, Vezenkov will either be receiving part of the Kings’ full mid-level exception if they operate as an over-the-cap team, or he could receive most of their room exception if they choose to use cap room. Both options are on the table based on their previous moves this offseason.

Vezenkov, 27, is under contract with Olympiacos through ’24/25, but has a buyout clause believed to be worth approximately 1.5 million Euros. He talked about being “ready for new challenges” after his Greek club lost in the EuroLeague final.

The 6’9″ Bulgarian forward averaged 17.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists on a sparkling .546/.398/.857 shooting slash line in 33 EuroLeague games this past season (28.7 MPG). Wojnarowski says (via Twitter) the former second-round pick is expected to have a “formidable role” for Sacramento.

Pacific Notes: Ishbia, Suns, Christie, Clippers, Vezenkov

Chris Paul caused a stir last month when he repeatedly said Isiah Thomas was involved in the Suns‘ decision to trade him for Bradley Beal, but owner Mat Ishbia says Thomas had no role in the deal.

When decisions are made in the organization, (president of basketball operations and GM) James Jones, myself, (CEO) Josh Bartelstein, (head coach) Frank Vogel, our executive team make decisions,” Ishbia told Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “Outside people don’t have any role in our decision-making process. They never have, they never will. I’ve asked for advice from a lot of people, specifically Tom Izzo, Isiah Thomas, Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell. I talk to a lot of people, but honestly, on this situation, not one of those people were consulted on this decision.”

In an Insider-only article for ESPN, Brian Windhorst takes a look at Ishbia’s active involvement in the Suns organization. Sources tell Windhorst that Thomas has spent time informally advising in Phoenix, but his unofficial role has been reduced in recent weeks after the team filled out its front office. Windhorst’s sources confirm that Thomas was not involved in the Beal/Paul trade.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Lakers wing Max Christie has been excelling during Summer League action, and he hopes that his work this offseason will lead to more minutes in 2023/24, which will be his second NBA season. “I just want to be in the rotation and play as much as possible,” Christie told Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “I just want to play as much basketball as I can. Last year was motivation to get to that spot. That’s really all it is. That’s my mission. That’s my goal.” The 20-year-old has put on about 15 pounds of muscle since he was drafted last year, Buha adds. In another article for The Athletic, Buha examines the Lakers’ depth chart, with Christie currently slotting in as the backup shooting guard behind Austin Reaves.
  • Should the Clippers offer contract extensions to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George? Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times spoke to rival executives and an agent to solicit opinions on what path the Clippers should take with their oft-injured star duo.
  • In an interview with, reigning EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov talked about his decision to sign with the Kings and being an NBA rookie at 27 years old. “It’s a dream and a potential,” the forward said as part of larger quote. “Because I’m not doing this just for living the NBA dream. In any dream, I see potential. A potential that can teach me something and evolve me. I’m not going to the USA to come back soon. I want to be tested in the NBA. I’m thinking about everything positively. I’ll start at zero. Now, the work I’ll do will be even bigger. I know what I’ve been through and how much I’ve worked. You can’t buy experience. I think the circumstances are the best.”

Kings Reportedly Offer Contract To Sasha Vezenkov

Reports over the past month have indicated that the Kings are determined to bring Sasha Vezenkov stateside and would renew contract talks with the EuroLeague MVP once they were permitted to following the draft.

According to Harry Stavrou of Greek outlet, now that the draft has come and gone, the Kings have offered Vezenkov a contract worth part of the full mid-level exception — “slightly lower” than the $8.4MM Keegan Murray will make in 2023/24 (hat tip to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee).

Sacramento acquired Vezenkov’s draft rights from the Cavaliers in exchange for the 49th overall pick in the 2022 draft. He was originally selected 57th in 2017. The Kings negotiated with him last summer but couldn’t reach an agreement.

While I have no doubt that the Kings want to sign the Olympiacos star, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they have indeed offered him a new deal, I’m a little skeptical that they’ll operate as an over-the-cap team and have access to the full mid-level exception. That would require the Kings to re-sign Harrison Barnes and at least one more of the team’s free agents, and would rule out some other interesting possibilities.

However, they could offer Vezenkov a contract in the range of the figure cited ($7.6MM+) using the room exception, which would see the Kings operating with cap room. That may seem like semantics, but it’s worth clarifying that they don’t necessarily have to use the MLE (or their cap room) to sign Vezenkov.

Vezenkov, 27, is under contract with Olympiacos through ’24/25, but has a buyout clause believed to be worth approximately 1.5 million Euros. He talked about being “ready for new challenges” after his Greek club lost in the EuroLeague final.

Anderson previously wrote that an offer for Vezenkov was expected to start in the $3-4MM range annually, so the reported figure would obviously be a significant increase over that. The 6’9″ Bulgarian forward averaged 17.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists on a sparkling .546/.398/.857 shooting slash line in 33 EuroLeague games this past season (28.7 MPG).

Pacific Notes: Westbrook, Vezenkov, Suns, Dunleavy, Lakers

Russell Westbrook will have to balance money vs. playing time when he makes his decision in free agency, write Law Murray and Danny Leroux of The Athletic.

Westbrook took over as the starting point guard after he signed with the Clippers in February and raised his value by averaging 15.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists in 21 games. Leroux speculates that there may not be another team willing to give him a starting role, although opportunities exist if he’s willing to be the first guard off the bench.

The Clippers would prefer to keep Westbrook, but without his Bird rights, they’re limited to an offer of 120% of the veteran’s minimum. Although L.A. could theoretically trim enough salary below the $179.5MM second apron to offer Westbrook the mid-level exception, that wouldn’t be a huge raise because it’s being lowered to $5MM in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Leroux suggests that owner Steve Ballmer could try to re-sign Westbrook with an unspoken understanding that he’ll get a bigger deal next summer when the team will have his Early Bird rights.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings are determined to bring Sasha Vezenkov  to Sacramento next season, according to Christos Tsaltas of Sportal. High-ranking team officials traveled to Greece this season to watch Vezenkov in action and to learn more about his character and work habits. The Kings see Vezenkov as a back-up to Keegan Murray and believe they’re versatile enough to play together, Tsaltas adds.
  • Miles Simon and John Lucas III are the latest additions to Frank Vogel‘s coaching staff with the Suns, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. Simon was the head coach of the South Bay Lakers in the G League, and they both worked under Vogel in L.A.
  • New general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. was brought to the Warriors‘ management team by his former agent, Bob Myers, shortly after he retired as a player, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Myers hired Dunleavy as a scout in 2018, and he worked his way up through the organization. He has been taking on more of Myers’ duties over the past two years, including attending the league’s gatherings of general managers.
  • The Lakers hosted six players for a pre-draft workout on Saturday, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. On hand were UConn’s Andre Jackson Jr., Stetson’s Sam Peek, Chattanooga’s Jake Stephens, Overtime Elite’s Jazian Gortman, Texas’ Timmy Allen and Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis. L.A. has the 17th and 47th picks in this year’s draft.

Kings Notes: Sabonis, Mitchell, Vezenkov, Draft

Kings star Domantas Sabonis told Sean Cunningham of FOX 40 Sacramento (Twitter video link) on Thursday that he was about to get another scan on his right thumb to assess how his avulsion fracture has healed following treatment. While there’s hope that Sabonis will be able to avoid undergoing surgery on the thumb this offseason, that possibility hasn’t yet been ruled out, according to the big man.

Asked about whether or not he’ll be able to play for Lithuania in this year’s World Cup, Sabonis said it will depend on the results of his latest scan and the treatment plan for his thumb going forward.

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • Kings guard Davion Mitchell has new representation, having made the move from CAA to Octagon Basketball — Octagon posted a tweet welcoming Mitchell to the agency. The former lottery pick will be extension-eligible during the 2024 offseason and would become a restricted free agent in 2025 if he doesn’t sign an extension before then.
  • Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee takes a closer look at the Kings’ potential next steps with EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov, whose NBA rights are controlled by Sacramento. According to Anderson, the team’s offer for the 27-year-old will likely start in the neighborhood of $3-4MM. That would be roughly equivalent to the first-year salary for a player drafted between Nos. 15-21 in 2023.
  • In a separate story for The Sacramento Bee, Anderson examines a few prospects who could be targets for the Kings at No. 24 in this month’s draft. As Anderson notes, general manager Monte McNair has a track record of selecting older college players with Sacramento’s first-round picks, so forwards like Trayce Jackson-Davis and Kris Murray (Keegan Murray‘s twin brother) could be on the team’s radar.
  • In case you missed it, Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez is believed to be one of the finalists in the Raptors’ head coaching search. Toronto is expected to make a decision is relatively soon.