Bjelica agreed to terms on a contract with the 76ers earlier in the week, but ultimately backed out. It was reported his decision was based on his wishes to stay close to his family in Europe. Thus, his decision to join the Kings is relatively surprising. The deal may have been too much to turn down, as it matched the length he was reportedly looking for. He averaged 6.8 points 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 triples across 20.5 minutes for the Timberwolves last season, and figures to see a similar role off the bench as a stretch-four next season.
The terms of Bjelica's deal aren't fully known, but it's believed he agreed to a one-year pact for the room mid-level exception. The 6-foot-10 forward spent his first three seasons in the NBA with the Timberwolves and averaged 6.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 three-pointers in 20.5 minutes per game in 2018-19. He'll give the 76ers another big body that can stretch out the defense thanks to his three-point shooting, effectively filling the void left by the departure of Ersan Ilyasova, who inked a three-year deal with Milwaukee earlier in the week.
The Timberwolves rescinded Bjeclia's qualifying offer Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.
Bjelica was initially a restricted free agent, but Monday's decision will eliminate Minnesota's ability to match any offer sheet he signs. The Wolves added Anthony Tolliver just minutes after the qualifying offer was rescinded, which could signal that they're ready to move on from Bjelica, who appeared in 192 games for the franchise over the last three seasons.
Last year marked Bjelica's third year in the league -- all with Minnesota. He saw more run than usual, starting 21 games in the wake of Jimmy Butler's knee injury. During those starts, Bjelica averaged 10.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists across 34.0 minutes while notably shooting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc. However, unless coach Tom Thibodeau reduces the role of players such as Taj Gibson and Gorgui Dieng, it's not exactly clear that Bjelica will see more run next season.
Bjelica managed 16 points (5-9 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 4-5 FT), eight rebounds, two assists and two steals across 19 minutes during Minnesota's 102-82 loss to the Rockets in Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.
With the Timberwolves down by a sizable margin the second half, head coach Tom Thibodeau curtailed his starter's minutes and gave his bench some extra run. Bjelica parlayed the opportunity into a team-high scoring total following a scoreless effort over a scant six minutes in Game 1 of the series. Despite the uptick in playing time Wednesday, Bjelica remains a highly risky play from game to game during the series, given that postseason rotations are usually much tighter than what Minnesota's was in Game 2.
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