Report: Wolves sign Nemanja Bjelica to 3-year, $11.7 million contract
Woj dropped another bomb, this time relating to the Timberwolves.
Yahoo Sources: Euro star Nemanja Bjelica agrees to three-year, $11.7M deal with Timberwolves. http://t.co/lbU0BQVxOu
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 6, 2015
It had been fairly well-known for a while now that Bjelica, a 2nd round pick from 2010 (originally by the Wizards, rights then traded to Minnesota), would be joining the Timberwolves this summer at some point. Reports from Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press and others linked Bjelica to the Wolves this year, after a great season with Fenerbahçe Ülker of the Turkish Basketball League, where he was awarded the Euroleague MVP award.
It’s hard to quantify the value of a guy who has never played an NBA game, but less than $4 million per year on last year’s Euroleague MVP, especially considering this summer’s market, has the makings of a steal if he turns out.
The 2015-16 season will be his first, but he was introduced as a member of the Timberwolves back in 2010 with Wes Johnson and Lazar Hayward (that’s where the picture above is from). Since then, his game, as well as has accolades, have taken off.
A versatile forward, Bjelica has shown ability to not just finish at the rim, but to also handle the ball at a high level. Defensively, there are some kinks that need to be worked out, but he has shown the ability to block shots at the rim from time to time, and finished second in blocked shots on his team a year ago.
He played the role of point forward for his team, and has done that over the past few years, including for the Serbian national team in last year’s World Cup, where he played well.
An excerpt about Bjelica from a post from last year’s World Cup:
So far, Bjelica has looked good. He has a solid handle for a guy of his size and build, and doesn’t seem to have any fear of contact going to the rim (which, at times, has hurt him in this tournament). He’s a central player on a very talented Serbia roster, and hasn’t shied away thus far from taking big shots. If he ever does come over to the NBA, confidence will likely not be an issue for him.
It’s unclear what Bjelica’s role will be in next year’s rotation, but there should be an opportunity to get minutes right away. His versatile style of play, combined with the question marks surrounding Adreian Payne and Anthony Bennett, as well as Kevin Garnett’s minute limit, Bjelica will play if he can hack it at this level.
This signing also might spell the end for Robbie Hummel in a Timberwolves uniform. Krawcynski also reported the Wolves have withrawn their qualifying offer for Hummel, whose defense and high basketball IQ made him a fan favorite in some circles. He’s certainly put himself into a position to find another NBA job if the Wolves don’t bring him back.
For those who have never seen Bjelica, here are some of his better moments of the past couple years.