The Wolves completed the signing of Serbian forward and reigning Euroleague MVP Nemanja Bjelica today via press release. Here's the text:
Minneapolis/St. Paul - The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed reigning Euroleague Most Valuable Player forward Nemanja Bjelica (nay-MON-yah, bee-ELL-leets-zah). Bjelica, originally acquired in a draft-day trade with the Washington Wizards in 2010, was selected with the 35th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Per team policy, terms of the contract was not disclosed.
Bjelica, a 6-10 forward, was named the Euroleague MVP this past season with Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey, averaging 11.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in 63 combined games between Euroleague play and the Turkish Basketball League (TBL). The 27-year-old from Serbia shot 54.1% from the floor and 37.4% from three-point range, including 39.3% from long distance during the TBL season. Bjelica was named to the 2014-15 All-Euroleague First Team, and the 2014-15 Euroleague March MVP. Before joining Fenerbahce in 2013-14, Bjelica spent three seasons with the Spanish team Laboral Kutxa Vitoria.
A member of the Serbian National Team, Bjelica won silver medals at both the 2014 World Championship and 2009 European Championship. He also played with the team at the 2011 and 2013 European Championships.
He will wear No. 88 for the Wolves this season.
Terms were not announced, but reports have it as a three year deal worth less than $12M.
We've discussed Bjelica at length, but he arrives in the NBA in the prime of his career and should fill a role as a play making power forward for the Wolves. He does just about everything fairly well--he can handle, pass and shoot at an NBA level, and should hold his own on the boards and hopefully defensively.
Hopefully he will show enough to earn the backup job to Kevin Garnett, who won't play a lot of minutes. I am a believer in his skills and think he will help the team's second unit significantly.
The Wolves now have at least four power forwards under contract for next season: in addition to Garnett and Bjelica, Adreian Payne and Anthony Bennett remain on the payroll. Whether they will look to balance the roster, likely with a trade of Bennett, remains to be seen.
The Wolves will hold a press conference to introduce Bjelica tomorrow at 12:30 at Mayo Clinic Square.
After that, Bjelica is likely to be playing for Serbia in the upcoming Eurobasket tournament in September before reporting for training camp with the Wolves.
And he's wearing #88. Which is awesome.