Bjelica said he is not concerned with trade rumors or proving he can help a playoff contender down the stretch. “I don’t need to prove anything to anybody,” Bjelica said. “Like I said, I really don’t know anything about rumors about trades. That’s normal part of our life. This is my sixth year in the league, so everybody knows me as a player.”
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Over the past four games — his first action since Jan. 9 — Bjelica averaged 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 23.5 minutes per game. “To be honest with you, I work my a– off,” Bjelica said. “That’s what everybody’s supposed to do when you’re out of the rotation or you don’t play or you play less.” Teammates have seen Bjelica putting in that work.
Trade interest was already forming on at least two fronts Friday when Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica emerged from the deepest reaches of coach Luke Walton’s bench to prove he’s still got game under that baggy warmup suit. Two Eastern Conference playoff contenders are believed to have interest in the veteran big man, one that went to the NBA Finals last season and another that hopes to get there this season. One of those teams is the Miami Heat, a club that can absorb Bjelica’s contract using its $7.6 million trade exception, a league source told The Sacramento Bee. The Philadelphia 76ers also “are known to be among the teams who are considering the 32-year-old forward,” according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
Bjelica said his inability to log onto Twitter doesn’t allow him to follow trade rumors. If he plays the way he did against the Magic, he could certainly help the Kings or another team. “I’m here just to play basketball,” Bjelica said. “I love playing basketball, I love being on the court, and I’m just trying to help the team to win and play as hard as I can the best that I can.”
The Athletic reported Friday that Philadelphia was interested in trading for Bjelica, who’d fallen out of the rotation as the team focused on developing Marvin Bagley III and using Harrison Barnes for most of the minutes Bagley isn’t at power forward. League sources said teams have inquired about Bjelica, who had his best NBA season in 2019-20 and is in the last year of his contract. Bjelica has 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists against Orlando.
Nemanja Bjelica who has been out of Walton’s rotation since Jan. 9 and appears likely to be on the move. The Sixers, who have long been tied to Hield in terms of interest, are known to be among the teams who are considering the 32-year-old forward who has shot 39 percent from three-point range in his six seasons.
The Kings picked up the final year of Bjelica’s contract during the offseason, which pays him $7.2 million this season. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer and at 32 years old (33 in May), it’s unlikely that he’s part of the plan going forward, especially with Bagley developing and playing major minutes at the power forward position. With Sacramento currently sitting at 6-10 on the season, there is a very good possibility that the team will be active between now and the trade deadline. Players like Bjelica, Robinson III, Joseph, Whiteside and Jabari Parker all are in the final year of their contracts.
The Kings explored trades for Bjelica around the time of the November draft and will likely continue to do so as they begin to rebuild over the next two to four years with players who fit Fox’s timeline, a source said. The organization’s emphasis on developing younger players has temporarily, at least, eliminated the role of Bjelica, a 32-year-old power forward who had a career year for the Kings last season.
The Kings reduced Bjelica’s role as part of general manager Monte McNair’s plan to rebuild around De’Aaron Fox, the 23-year-old point guard who recently signed a five-year, $163 million contract extension, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Sacramento Bee. Bjelica was benched two weeks ago after some discussion about his playing time, sources said.
Sources told The Bee there is no personal issue for Bjelica, who traveled with the team to Los Angeles and was seen on the bench as the Kings suffered their fourth consecutive loss. Walton has tiptoed around the reasons for Bjelica’s absence while repeatedly making it clear the decision has nothing to do with the coaching staff’s belief in him as a player.
Also in Windhorst’s latest Hoop Collective podcast, he and colleague Zach Lowe identified the Kings and Magic as two teams that may be looking to get a little younger this offseason rather than being content with competing again for the No. 8 seed. Nemanja Bjelica was identified by Lowe as a possible trade candidate to watch in Sacramento, while Windhorst added that Orlando would likely be open to moving Evan Fournier.
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February 28, 2021 | 6:15 am EST Update
Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love is on this quick two-game trip with his teammates so he can continue to rehab a high-grade strained right calf, but the five-time All-Star is “unlikely” to return until after the NBA All-Star break, league sources tell cleveland.com.
Given the Cavs only have two games remaining — Monday in Houston and Wednesday at home against the Indiana Pacers — before a needed nine-day break, sources said the team doesn’t see the upside in pushing it. They want to use the extra days to get his calf better, so he can be 100 percent for the Second Half.
The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant will still serve as an NBA All-Star Game captain despite a hamstring injury that will keep him from playing. Durant and fellow All-Star Game captain LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers will each draft a roster out of the pool of selected All-Stars. The All-Star draft will air on TNT on March 4. It remained unclear whether Durant will travel to Atlanta for the game on March 7.
A Knicks official said Rivers was at the Garden, but in the back getting treatment for a sore ankle. Rivers was not listed on the pregame injury report submitted to the NBA. On the box score, Rivers was listed with a DNP-Coach’s Decision. Earlier this week, Rivers said of his situation: “I can’t control if I’m traded today, tomorrow or the next day. What I can control is how I am as a player.’’
His father, Mychal Thompson, believes Klay’s basketball lifespan could run until he’s 40 years old. “I said, if you really want to, you can play till you’re 40 years of age, but the key to that is you have to take care of your body, as you go into your 30s,” Mychal said, recounting to NBC Sports Bay Area a conversation he had with Klay.
That doesn’t mean he’s a finished product. There’s a reason the Raptors signed him with G League intentions and not for the NBA roster. The 10-day contract (about $82,000) affords them six games to see how he can fit and progress in their environment. It’s an audition by another name, and not the first time the Raptors have used a 10-day to get a 905 look at a prospect. “This gives us a chance to get Donta down in our system, teach him our ins and outs and the way we operate our offence, our defence, our schemes, and see how he looks running those,” general manager Chad Sanders said. “With Tampa just down the street, it’s a chance for us to get him out there and get some reps and get a chance to evaluate him for the big club.”
Callie Caplan: Luka, on ABC, asked about recent comparisons to Larry Bird’s game: “More, more games to go. A long time before you can compare me to Larry Bird. I just want to keep hooping, have fun playing basketball.”