As the trade deadline approaches, there is one player in particular that teams should be calling the Sacramento Kings about.
The fifth-year power forward is quietly having a solid season for Sacramento, and has been of the very few bright spots for the team this year. He is averaging career-highs across the board with 12.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
He is responsible for perhaps the only highlight-worthy play of the season with his buzzer-beater in Houston, and is coming off of a career night. In Monday’s loss against the Magic, he scored 34 points on 8 made threes (both personal bests), shooting a blistering 13 for 16 from the field on the night.
While Bjelica’s production and consistency are certainly attractive traits on the trade market, his value is increased even further by the team-friendly contract that the Kings signed him to a year and a half ago.
The Affordable Contract
In July of 2018, Bjelica signed a 3 year, $20.5 million contract that seemed like a fair price or even overpay at the time: he had averaged just 6.8 points in 21 minutes per game the season prior. But that deal is an absolute bargain today. Bjelica is under contract for the rest of this season as well as the next, and is owed just $7.1 million in the final year of his deal.
There are plenty of contending teams that could use the cheap services of a sharp-shooter who doesn’t demand touches but can certainly light up a scoreboard on any given evening. Add in the fact that he’s locked up for next season and can be viewed as a building block instead of simply just a rental and you’ve got yourself quite the asset.
The contract factor could potentially make Bjelica the most valuable trade chip that the Kings have. Bogdanovic is certainly the more valuable player and more well-known commodity, but he may be viewed as a half-season rental to some teams, lowering the potential return that he would command for Sacramento.
The Kings will play ten games before the February 6th trade deadline, and there are plenty of factors that will influence whether the Kings are buyers or sellers. If they do decide to sell, the player that Sacramento receives the most calls about might just be Nemanja Bjelica.