SACRAMENTO KINGS

Report: Sasha Vezenkov wants out of Sacramento

Jun 8, 2024, 7:43 AM | Updated: Jun 10, 2024, 7:51 am

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It’s shaping up to be an offseason of change for the Sacramento Kings, and one player has already emerged as a trade candidate for general manager Monte McNair.

According to Eurohoops.net’s Mihalis Stefanou, forward Sasha Vezenkov intends to leave the Kings this summer–whether that be by trade, release, or returning to play in the EuroLeague.

Vezenkov, 28, signed a three-year, $20 million deal (first two years guaranteed) with Sacramento last summer, meaning the Bulgarian forward is under contract for the upcoming 2024-25 season. The Kings hold a club option on Vezenkov for the 2025-26 season worth $6.9 million.

According to Eurohoops sources, the 28-year-old forward has informed the team about his intention to leave. It is yet to be decided if he will seek another opportunity somewhere else in the NBA or if he will return to Europe.

Eurohoops’ Mihalis Stefanou – June 8, 2024

While Vezenkov has made his interest in departing Northern California clear, it might not be a cakewalk for the sharpshooter to ensure his exit.

Spotrac’s Keith Smith provided some clarity on Vezenkov’s–and Sacramento’s–options for this potential split:

The Kings hold the cards in this process. They could choose to eat Vezenkov’s $6.6 million salary, attempt to find a trade partner, or work on a buyout with the forward that could clear a path to a new destination.

Either way, Vezenkov’s brief tenure with the Beam Team could be ending as the offseason approaches.

More on Sasha Vezenkov

Expectations were high for Sasha Vezenkov last summer when he inked a multi-year deal to finally make the leap from the EuroLeague to the NBA.

After securing EuroLeague MVP honors while playing for Greek club Olympiacos during the 2022-23 season, Vezenkov—the 57th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft—joined a Sacramento Kings team that was coming off its first NBA Playoff appearance in 17 years.

While it appeared that Vezenkov, a 28-year-old sharpshooter, would fit in seamlessly with Sacramento’s pass-heavy and three-point-shooting-based offense, the forward found himself in and out of head coach Mike Brown’s rotations as the regular season began.

Once Vezenkov reemerged as a player in Brown’s rotation, the Bulgarian talent suffered a left ankle sprain that kept him sidelined for two weeks. Upon returning, Vezenkov injured his right ankle—a grade 3 partial tear—that kept him out of action for seven weeks, including the bulk of the Kings’ postseason push.

“Overall, it was, I can say, a, like, weird season,” Vezenkov responded when asked to reflect on his season following Sacramento’s Play-In loss to New Orleans in late April. “Ups and downs, new game, new life, a couple of injuries,” Vezenkov said of his first NBA season. “I tried to adjust as fast as possible, and you know, unfortunately, we finished too early. Everybody wanted to continue and go deep into the playoffs, but we have to learn from that.

“It was, as I said, a new experience, and I wanted every day to become better. Unfortunately, those two injuries, I think they held me back, but the whole situation was a little bit difficult and different.”

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Over 42 appearances this season, Vezenkov posted averages of 5.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game on 44 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent on attempts from three-point range. The 6’9 forward averaged 12.2 minutes per contest, ranking tenth among players on Sacramento’s roster.

“It’s tough, you know, because I understand like the core of the team, like seven people were playing constant minutes, and then for the rest of us, like, today, maybe [it’s] you, the next day someone else, you know? It’s really tough,” Vezenkov said of his minutes and role.

“At the end of the day, that’s what we have to do. That’s what we’re getting paid to do, but it’s tough, you know, because maybe you can play today, and then you have limited minutes to show what you can do, but there’s one team. That’s why we have roles, and that’s why it’s a team.

But the one thing I can say, it’s really tough. You have to be mentally strong and sometimes throughout the stretch of the year, you’re missing it, like you miss your path, and then you have to be strong again and you need a little bit of everything, you need good games. You need like to play one, two good games to feel it. Then it’s weird and tough as I said, it’s different.”

Vezenkov’s skillset is somewhat redundant with fellow reserve forward Trey Lyles on the roster. The Kings have several areas to address this summer, especially if impending free agent Malik Monk departs.

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Rostering two stretch fours on similar contracts (Vezenkov’s near $7 million deal and Lyles’ $8 million contract for 2024-25) is unnecessarily for a team that needs more versatility on the depth chart.

McNair has his work cut out for him this summer, and now he will have to deal with what appears to be a disgruntled Vezenkov when the free agency and trade gates open later this month.

When is the next Sacramento Kings off-season date of interest?

The NBA Draft is now a two-night event.

Wednesday, June 26th, will act as the first night of the 2024 NBA Draft, where the Sacramento Kings will make their first-round selection (13th). The second round of the draft will be held on Thursday, June 27th, where the Kings will use its 45th overall pick.

Sacramento hasn’t had a first-round pick since 2022, when it selected Iowa product Keegan Murray with the fourth overall pick.

Stay locked into Sactown Sports for all of your Kings draft coverage, including player profiles, reports regarding pre-draft workouts, draft night coverage, and much more.

NBA Offseason Schedule

  • Wednesday, June 26-Thursday, June 27th – 2024 NBA Draft
  • Sunday, June 30th – Free Agent negotiating window opens (3 PM PST)
  • Saturday, July 6th – Free Agents can officially sign contracts
  • July 12-22nd – Las Vegas Summer League
  • July 27-August 11th – 2024 Olympic Games
  • Friday, September 27th – NBA training camps begin

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