The Knicks might be going even more Euro!
No longer content merely to dominate the basketball world of tomorrow with Latvian super-stud Kristaps Porzingis, Phil Jackson might be looking to pry the rights to 6'10" power forward Nemanja Bjelica away from the Minnesota Timberwolves, per Eurohoops' Nikos Varlas:
According to Eurohoops sources, the Euroleague MVP has already decided to continue his career in the NBA. He has to sign his new contract until the 10th of July, the date his opt out clause in the contract with Fenerbahce/ Ulker expires. Bjelica has been in contact for a long time with the Timberwolves, however now the Knicks entered the picture.
Bjelica is a unique case and his passing ability makes him a great fit for the triangle offense. That’s probably why the Knicks are really interested on him and they seem willing to offer him a better deal than the one he already has on the table from Minessota. It remains to be seen what Minessota will decide, since the Timberwolves also want the Serbian Forward and Euroleague MVP of the season on their roster for next season.
Bjelica averaged 11.5 points on 53.7 percent shooting (37% from three), 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists for the Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce. Euroleague is the basketball equivalent of the Champions League, so he won MVP honors in a showcase of the best teams from around Europe. Also, he is apparently the Serbian Magic:
Now there's a dude born to play in the Triangle.
Despite all the Frederic Weis jokes, Knicks scouts have done some good work in Europe of late, digging up the likes of Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland. Bjelica is younger than both of them (27 next season), with a better pedigree.
Learning more on Bjelica. 1 scout who just saw him says #Twolves have 25+ min./game PF, or a nice trade chip. W/ Tellem, he'll want good $$.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) December 15, 2014
Will the Knicks, who are practically barren of trade chips, be able to swing a deal for Serbian Magic? The two teams could agree to swap his draft rights, or they could work a more complicated sign-and-trade deal. Minnesota GM Flip Saunders seems to want to sign him, but Bjelica could always threaten to stay in Europe to leverage his way into a trade. I'll never doubt the Wolves' resolve to wait out malcontent Euros after the Rubio situation, so I very much doubt this deal gets done. On the other hand, Flip is a pretty terrible GM, and I've learned not to dismiss Phil Jackson so easily after he pulled of the Grant-for-Hardaway miracle.
Either way, it's nice to see New York exploring all options here. Despite what you may be reading in the tabloids, I sincerely doubt they blow all of their cap space over two guys.
Cool Synergy stuff on Bjelica:
Nemanja Bjelica translated the skills that got him drafted in 2010 to the top leagues in Europe. Hot name in FA today pic.twitter.com/GNr0vG9QrH— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) June 29, 2015