The Golden State Warriors have watched several role players change teams over the past few days, including one who has chosen to leave the NBA entirely.
Nemanja Bjelica, originally from Serbia, agreed on Friday to join the Turkish champion team Fenerbache, per Turkish reporter Ugur Ozan Sulak via Sportando.
Anthony Slater of The Athletic reported further that Golden State had hoped to re-sign Bjelica to the roster on a veteran minimum contract before the big man made his decision to depart.
“The Warriors were interested in bringing Nemanja Bjelica back on the veteran minimum, but they were informed [Friday] he has opted to leave the NBA entirely for a preferred situation on one of his former teams,” Slater tweeted on July 1. “Another rotation player lost.”
The Los Angeles Lakers were also interested in a deal with Bjelica, per Sean Deveney of Heavy.com, but were unable to entice him to remain in the United States.
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Bjelica Offered Warriors Stretch Option, Produced in Quality Minutes
Bjelica was a meaningful contributor to Golden State’s success over the course of the year. He appeared in 71 regular season games, posting averages of 6.1 points and 4.1 rebounds across 16.1 minutes per night, per Basketball Reference.
The 34-year-old forward/center has spent the last seven seasons in the NBA, splitting time between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings, with a short stint as a member of the Miami Heat before landing with the Dubs last year.
The report of Bjelica’s return to Fenerbache, where he played from 2013-15 before making his NBA debut, did not include contract details. He played on a one-year contract in Golden State worth just shy of $2.1 million in 2021-22. Bjelica earned nearly $34 million over the course of his NBA career, per Spotrac.
Warriors Face Mass Exodus of Role Players Following Title Win
Bjelica is not the only role player that the Warriors will need to replace this offseason, after several key pieces of their fourth championship team in eight years have departed for more money elsewhere.
Among them are defensive specialist Gary Payton II, who joined the Portland Trail Blazers on a three-year deal worth $28 million. The Warriors offered Payton the full taxpayer midlevel exception of $6.4 million annually for two seasons.
Also departed is forward Otto Porter Jr. after he agreed to a two-year contract with the Toronto Raptors that includes a player option on the second year. The Warriors offered a deal to Porter, but it was only the veteran minimum.
Bench player Juan Tascano Anderson took flight for the Lakers, prompting well wishes from Warriors two-time MVP Steph Curry.
Golden State was able to retain center Kevon Looney, who largely functioned as a starter last season, on a three-year deal worth $25.5 million. The Dubs also added Donte DiVincenzo, formerly of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Kings, on a two-year deal worth $9.3 million.
The Warriors are rumored to be interested in adding defensive specialist Patrick Beverley to the roster this offseason. The polarizing guard helped the Timberwolves to the playoffs last year and was recently traded to the Utah Jazz as part of a deal that sent All-Star Rudy Gobert to Minnesota.
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