Sasha Vezenkov ready to ‘show it on the court’ in Sacramento

Aug 31, 2023, 4:33 PM

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As Sacramento Kings general manager Monte McNair and new forward Sasha Vezenkov took the stage at Golden 1 Center’s practice facility on Thursday, a side door opened and some familiar faces filed into the gym.

Vezenkov, a 28-year-old Bulgarian forward who is coming off an MVP campaign in the EuroLeague with Olympiacos B.C., held up his number seven Kings jersey while De’Aaron Fox, Keegan Murray, head coach Mike Brown, assistant coach Luke Loucks, and executive Alvin Gentry found a spot to stand and watch their new teammate speak to the media.

The sharp-shooting Vezenkov was finally in Sacramento on the heels of signing his three-year, $20 million deal over the summer, and now the forward had a simple–yet telling–message for Kings fans:

“I don’t like to talk a lot. I like to do it on the court.”

Following months of ‘will he, won’t he’ speculation, the Kings reached an agreement with the EuroLeague MVP during the opening days of free agency in early July.

Over 37 appearances in the EuroLeague and Greek League last season, Vezenkov averaged 17.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 65 percent on two-point field goals and 39 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

Vezenkov will join a Sacramento team that recently ended a 16-year postseason drought and 20-year Pacific Division title drought, something the forward said he hopes to add to this coming season.

“I see opportunity. That’s why I’m here,” Vezenkov said of his decision to leave Greece and join the Kings. “I think that I can help this team.”

The process of luring Vezenkov to Northern California was extensive for Sacramento.

After acquiring the NBA rights to Vezenkov during a 2022 NBA Draft day deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Kings attempted to bring the 6’9 product to the states for the 2022-23 season. Seeing that Sacramento was coming off another losing season–the franchise’s 16th consecutive losing campaign–Vezenkov opted to stay with his Greek League club, Olympiacos.

Fast forward one year and a lot has changed for the Kings.

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‘The Beam Team’ was one of the best stories of the 2022-23 season as Fox and Domantas Sabonis led an exciting young core to a 48-34 season that ended with a hard-fought seven-game NBA Playoff series against the then-defending champion Golden State Warriors.

Vezenkov said on Thursday that he watched the Kings during their march to the postseason, adding that he “did his scouting” on his new teammates.

Once Sacramento’s season came to a close in late April, Brown almost immediately boarded a flight to Greece to watch Vezenkov play in the EuroLeague Playoffs. Joining Brown on his trip was several members of the Kings’ front office, including team COO Matina Kolokotronis and assistant coach Jay Triano.

During the course of the EuroLeague Playoffs, several members of Sacramento’s front office made the trip overseas to watch Vezenkov lead his team to the Finals, something that meant a lot to the forward.

“I didn’t expect every member of [the front office] would come to Greece, but they showed me that they want me a lot. All members of the organization showed me love and respect, they showed me that they want me to be a member of the Kings,” Vezenkov said of the overseas visits. “They want me here. This helped [my decision].”

Vezenkov, who will be in a Kings jersey through the 2025-26 season, joins Harrison Barnes, De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray (who will be a restricted free agent), Mike Brown, and Monte McNair on identical contract lengths as Sacramento prepares to enter a window with this impressive core.

Highlights from Sasha Vezenkov’s Introductory Press Conference

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule

  • Sunday, October 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 5 PM PST (Preseason Opener)
  • 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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