Report: Former Kings big Nemanja Bjelica to retire from basketball

Oct 10, 2023, 9:03 AM

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 20: Nemanja Bjelica #88 of the Sacramento Kings shoots the ball ag...

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Following a 17-year span that included a successful stint in the EuroLeague and an NBA championship, Nemanja Bjelica is reportedly calling it a career.

According to Sportando, the 35-year-old is retiring from basketball due to injuries and will be concluding a career that spanned from 2007 to 2023 in the NBA, EuroLeague, Turkish League, and Liga ACB.

Over his seven seasons in the NBA, Bjelica averaged 7.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 46 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc over 449 appearances with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Miami Heat, and Golden State Warriors.

After spending the first eight years of his basketball career overseas, the stretch-four signed with the T-Wolves before the 2015-16 season.

Bjelica played in a reserve role for Minnesota during his three years in a Timberwolves jersey, posting averages of 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game on 45/37/75 shooting splits.

During the summer of 2018, Bjelica was preparing to head back to the EuroLeague before former Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac reached out to the 6’10 big and offered him a three-year, $20.5 million contract.

Although the Kings had just drafted second-overall pick Marvin Bagley III to play the four-spot, injuries and poor play opened the door for Bjelica to take over in Sacramento’s starting lineup.

Bjelica thrived with the Kings during the 2018-20 seasons, posting career-highs across the board in back-to-back years while leading Sacramento in win shares (5.3) during the 2019-20 season.

Nemanja Bjelica’s numbers with the Kings

  • 2018-19: 9.6 PTS, 5.8 REB, 1.9 AST, 48% FG, 40% 3PT
  • 2019-20: 11.5 PTS. 6.4 REB, 2.8 AST, 48% FG, 42% 3PT
  • 2020-21: 7.2 PTS, 3.8 REB, 1.9 AST, 43% FG, 37% 3PT

YouTube video

Bjelica was arguably Divac’s greatest free-agent find during his time as GM, along with the move to bring Richaun Holmes in on a bargain deal.

Although ‘Belly’ was a force for Sacramento on the perimeter (8th in the NBA in 3PT% in 2019-20), the Kings moved the then-33-year-old into a reserve role entering the 2020-21 season to let younger players like Bagley, Holmes, and Harrison Barnes take on the bulk of rotation minutes.

Sacramento traded Bjelica to Miami during the trade deadline, and the forward inked a deal with the Golden State Warriors the following summer.

Bjelica played a solid role off the bench during Golden State’s title run in 2021-22, playing in 71 games and averaging 6.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists while shooting 47 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep.

Following his NBA Finals win, Bjelica went back to finish his career in Europe with Fenerbahçe and Crvena zvezda before his retirement.

Next Game

Sacramento will continue its preseason schedule on Wednesday night when they travel south for a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Lakers coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from Southern California.

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule

  • Wednesday, October 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7 PM PST (in Anaheim, CA)
  • Sunday, October 15th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule

  • Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
  • Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM (Season Opener)
  • Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM (Home Opener)

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