Nemanja Bjelica Backs Out Of Philadelphia 76ers Commitment, Returns To Europe

By John Carlo A. Villaruel
on Jul 18, 2018 09:12 AM EDT
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Former Euroleague Most Valuable Player Nemanja Bjelica won't be joining the Philadelphia 76ers in the upcoming season after deciding to return to Europe.

The 30-year-old Bjelica, who played the last three years of his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, had agreed to a one-year $4.4 million deal with the 76ers. However, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Bjelica never actually inked his deal with the 76ers.

Bjelica's decision to pull out from the deal with the 76ers drew comparisons from Deandre Jordan's action with the Dallas Mavericks. It can be summoned that Jordan had verbally agreed to join the Mavericks, but he wasn't able to sign his deal due to the July moratorium.

Bjelica To Euroleague

On the other hand, Nikos Varlas of reported that Bjelica has caught the attention of numerous teams from the Euroleague. According to multiple reports, issues with his visa prevented Bjelica from taking the required physical before signing his deal with the Sixers.

The former Timberwolves forward returned to Europe after Minnesota's season ended. Earlier this offseason, the Timberwolves rescinded Bjelica's qualifying offer, hence making him an unrestricted free agent. The Timberwolves pulled the qualifying offer of Bjelica worth nearly $5 million so they could sign Anthony Tolliver.

Bjelica had decent averages last season, scoring 6.8 points per game while making 41.5 percent of his shots from the three-point area. The Serbian forward improved his game in March wherein he averaged 11 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest while converting 43.4 percent from three.

Next For The 76ers

The 76ers had hoped that Bjelica would serve as a replacement for Ersan Ilyasova, who signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. Yahoo Sports' Dan Feldman noted that finding a solid replacement for Bjelica would be an acid test for the 76ers, citing that the Serbian star is better than any remaining unrestricted free agents in the market.

With Bjelica gone, the 76ers will now lean on the play of Dario Saric, who has improved his range last season. Meanwhile, Bjelica's decision to not sign with the 76ers will also help the team's roster crunch problem. Feldman added that the 76ers will likely hold its exception on the possibility of signing potential buyout players.

Currently, the team has 16 players under contract, which is one more than the limit in the regular season. With 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden joining the 76ers next season, it is expected that the team will part ways with Jerryd Bayless, Furkan Korkmaz, and Justin Anderson through buyout or the provision of waiving them.

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