76ers Trade Rumors: Kings' Nemanja Bjelica Interests PHI Ahead of Deadline

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2021

Sacramento Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica (8) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers have reportedly expressed interest in Sacramento Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica ahead of the March 25 NBA trade deadline.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Bjelica "appears likely" to be traded, and the Sixers are one of multiple teams known to be considering a deal for him.

The 32-year-old Bjelica, who began his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015-16, is in the midst of his third season in Sacramento.

Bjelica enjoyed a career year in 2019-20 when he averaged 11.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in 72 appearances and 67 starts.

He was expected to be a key part of the rotation in 2020-21 as well, but with head coach Luke Walton favoring the likes of Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley in the frontcourt, while also working free-agent acquisition Hassan Whiteside into the mix, Bjelica has fallen out of favor.

Bjelica has appeared in just 10 games and is averaging just 15.1 minutes per contest, which is the lowest of his career. His 6.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game are his lowest averages since his second season in Minnesota as well.

The Kings dropped Bjelica from the rotation last month, and he has not played since Jan. 9 despite being healthy.

With Bjelica completely out of the mix and set to become a free agent during the offseason, there is essentially nothing stopping the Kings from trading him.

The Sixers are the top team in the Eastern Conference at 18-8, but Bjelica would seemingly be an ideal fit because of their need for additional frontcourt depth behind center Joel Embiid and power forward Tobias Harris.

Both Embiid and Harris have put together All-Star-caliber campaigns, but there isn't much production to speak of from the other bigs on the roster.

Also, while Bjelica is shooting just 23.8 percent from beyond the arc this season, he has traditionally been a quality stretch big.

He shot 41.9 percent from deep and made 1.9 three-pointers per game last season, and for his career, he is a 39.0 percent three-point shooter.

Philly is in the lower-middle portion of the league in three-point shooting percentage this season at 35.8 percent, but adding Bjelica to the fold could move them up the ranks and give the opposition more to account for on the defensive end as well.