Sources say the Sacramento Kings have explored trades for Nemanja Bjelica, whose role has been reduced as part of GM Monte McNair's plan to rebuild around De'Aaron Fox.https://t.co/uOmmVPcnNx— Jason Anderson (@JandersonSacBee) January 23, 2021
Reports recently surfaced about the new Sacramento Kings’ front office shopping their sharpshooting big man, Nemanja Bjelica, as they look to retool their roster around De’Aaron Fox. A combination of a loaded front court and poor play has likely made Bjelica expendable to the Sacramento front office as he plays out the final year of his contract.
Bjelica has only appeared in ten of the Kings’ games over the span of the young season. He is averaging 6.2 points per game in a career low 15.1 minutes per game. The low and unreliable playing time has definitely taken toll on Bjelica’s play, as he’s only shooting a lackluster 23.8 percent from behind the arc — a far cry from the 40-plus percent average he’s maintained over the majority of his career.
When I first saw that the Kings were exploring trades for Bjelica, I immediately thought that the Philadelphia 76ers should jump on this possible trade opportunity, as Bjelica would be the perfect fit in an area of need for the team.
While the Sixers have definitely preformed well, they shouldn’t shy away from working the margins in the trade market to further benefit an already-good team. Bjelica’s trade value should be pretty low, as he’s under-preformed on the court. His current situation is also common knowledge around the league, leaving the Kings’ with very little leverage.
When breaking down this Sixers team, we can see multiple needs as we inch closer to the March 25th trade deadline. Among these need are perimeter defense and perimeter shooting bigs.
When looking through the roster, you’ll notice there is somewhat of a void at their backup power forward spot — quite a contrast from prior seasons. We have Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, who are both capable of playing great minutes at the position. Aside from those two, things get a bit murky on who’s deserving of those minutes.
Mike Scott would be the answer most would point to. He’s been Doc Rivers’ go-to bench player at the position, but he really hasn’t fared well on either end of the floor. He’s shooting 25 percent from behind the arc and has often looked lost on the defensive side of the ball. Matisse Thybulle has appeared to leap frog him in the rotation, and he will likely continue to get minutes even after Scott gets recovers from his knee injury.
The next player that we could consider for a bench power forward or stretch five role would probably be Paul Reed, who is one of their two-way contract players. While he is an intriguing prospect with multiple NBA skills, he’s simply not NBA ready yet. It would be best to let him play and develop in the G-League for at least this season.
Nemanja Bjelica could bring the Sixers a sweet shooting big man that the roster so desperately needs. While he certainly isn’t a traditional center, he could provide fill-in minutes depending on the Sixers matchup at that position. While Dwight Howard has been a solid backup behind Embiid, we’ve seen the Sixers sometime struggle when he plays alongside Ben Simmons. Bjelica could give the Sixers a quality shooter that can pull up from range.
Daryl Morey has done an excellent job at giving the Sixers multiple contracts that can be used to match salary in upcoming trades. Mike Scott and Terrance Ferguson could combine to make the numbers work in a deal to land Bjelica. The Kings could have an interest in that type of deal, which would land them an athletic wing on the last year of his rookie deal in Ferguson. If he were to perform well with the Kings, they could re-sign him in restricted free agency, and if he preforms poorly they could simply let him walk. It would be a low-risk, high-reward kind of move. The Sixers have a ton of draft picks they could use to sweeten the deal as well.
When looking at the Kings, it’s important to remember what this franchise just endured over the previous offseason. They lost Bogdan Bogdanovic — a very talented forward — in restricted free agency to the M̶i̶l̶w̶a̶u̶k̶e̶e̶ ̶B̶u̶c̶k̶s̶ Atlanta Hawks and got nothing in return. The Kings as a franchise must make sure ro work the margins and avoid a repeat of the Bogdanovic situation.
It doesn’t hurt that there’s a professional connection between Daryl Morey and the Kings’ new GM, Monte McNair. McNair was the assistant GM to Morey during his tenure in Houston, and they worked very closely together.
It’s been reported that Daryl Morey is surveying the NBA landscape for deals, and this will likely be no exception. While some fans might be sour over the ordeal in which Bjelica backed out of a contract with the Sixers, it really shouldn’t matter at this point. He can bring some impressive shooting and ultimately help an already good Sixers team. Daryl Morey and the Sixers should pounce on this opportunity if it presents itself for the right price.