By “Stay In Europe,” Nemanja Bjelica Meant “Play For The Sacramento Kings”

Photo: Morry Gash (AP)

So it turns out Nemanja Bjelica’s sudden resolve to play in Europe this season was only good for a couple days. Bjelica backed out of a one-year deal with the Sixers on Tuesday, then spent, oh, three days sitting with the idea of halting his NBA career, and Friday night decided to join, of all teams, the Sacramento Kings:

This is another instance from just this summer of Vlade Divac convincing a decent rotation player to change their mind about a free agency decision and join the Kings. Yogi Ferrell pulled out of a two-year, $5.3 million contract with the Mavericks this week, to join the Kings on a two-year, $6.2 million contract. In both cases, it sounds like extra money—in Bjelica’s case, a lot more money, and over two guaranteed seasons, with a third, non-guaranteed season dangling at the end—and a strong pitch from Vlade did the trick. Per Shams Charania:

“I spent a lot of time talking with Vlade and as an icon in our country, he has a unique perspective on what it takes to put yourself in a successful NBA situation and what it takes as a player to perform in that situation,” Bjelica told Yahoo Sports. “The organization’s belief in and commitment to me overwhelmed me and my family. I am ready to do everything I can to help the Kings and be a part of the Sacramento community.”

Even making this point with words grants the Kings too much credit for having any sort of plan, but Bjelica will not be able to play rotation minutes on this team, as constructed, without one or more of their hundred big men shifting out of position to play small forward. Whatever the Kings are doing, it looks nothing like what the rest of the league is doing, for better or [almost certainly] worse. But the real juice of this story is Bjelica telling the Sixers he’d rather be out of the NBA altogether than move to Philadelphia, then adding further insult by joining the ridiculous Kings “super team.” What a strange summer it’s been.