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Nemanja Bjelica has been benched for the Kings youth movement, per report

After Walton said Bjelica was out for personal reasons, the Bee’s Jason Anderson reports otherwise.

Nemanja Bjelica hasn’t played the last six games, receiving DNP-CDs in each contest. Despite warming up each game and being available, Walton said Bjelica’s absence was due to personal reasons.

But now Jason Anderson reports that there is no personal issue, rather Bjelica has been benched as part of the Kings youth movement.

The Kings reduced Bjelica’s role as part of general manager Monte McNair’s plan to rebuild around De’Aaron Fox, the 23-year-old point guard who recently signed a five-year, $163 million contract extension, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Sacramento Bee.

Anderson also reported that Bjelica was shopped in trades around the draft, and will likely remain in trade discussions as the Kings look to get younger.

This report, when contrasted with Walton’s comments about the coaching staff’s belief in Bjelica as a player, signals a divide in strategy between the Kings front office and Walton.

Walton clearly has been coaching with the goal to win games, as you’d expect from any head coach. This isn’t a knock on Walton. Coaches and players are always going to try to win as much as they can.

But the idea that Bjelica was benched for youth stands in stark contrast to the rest of the rotation. Most of the Kings youngest players, like Robert Woodard II, Kyle Guy, Jahmi’us Ramsey, and Justin James, have been buried on the bench most games. De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, and Marvin Bagley are the only young players seeing regular minutes. Chimezie Metu has cracked the rotation in recent games, but has still be limited in his overall minutes.

Meanwhile, Walton continues to rely heavily on vets like Cory Joseph in his bench rotation, even if it means playing Joseph out of position to keep him on the floor.

If the front office is pushing for youth, it seems Monte McNair may need to make some trades to remove players from Walton’s rotation.

It is worth noting that despite a fantastic year last season, Bjelica has struggled when he’s played this year. Bjelica is shooting just 23.8% from three this year, versus a career best 41.9% last year. But according to Watin those struggles aren’t a factor in Bjelica being benched this year.

Whatever the reason for Bjelica’s benching, the coaching staff and front office are operating on two different timelines, and that’s a situation that can’t last forever.

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Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
January 24, 2021 10:15 am

If he was being shopped around the draft and a decision was made to “bench him in favor of youth,” then why pick up his option? This doesn’t even take into the consideration the failed logic of a youth movement when CoJo is getting significant minutes.

Reading the tea leaves makes me think the Nemanja has quietly requested a trade and is being a professional by remaining silent until a deal can be worked out.

I also have to think that maybe he is a bit chapped in regards to how the Kings handled his fellow countryman in Bogi.

Klam
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
January 24, 2021 10:20 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Reading the tea leaves makes me think the Nemanja has quietly requested a trade and is being a professional by remaining silent until a deal can be worked out.

At least he doesn’t have a Dad on social media demanding a trade. 😉

Tankathon
January 24, 2021 10:28 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I’d imagine they picked up his option to trade him. A contender could use Belly more than a no mans land Cojo

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
January 24, 2021 10:32 am
Reply to  Tankathon

But…they tried to trade and couldn’t. What would make him more tradable now than last offseason? Keep in mind a team could have traded for then simply not picked up his option in order to save money. If anything, he might have had more value then.

I do think he will have value to a contender, but the question is who and what comes back in return. My guess is the Kings will likely get a protected 2nd round and a end of the bench player.

Last edited 2 months ago by Adamsite
Tankathon
January 24, 2021 10:51 am
Reply to  Adamsite

thats a good point. I saw belly’s contract as a semi sweetener in a potential buddy or HB trade. A stretch 4 that is expiring

CoreyBrewersD
January 24, 2021 11:12 am
Reply to  Adamsite

You know the answer to the trade question. Time! I am sure they could have traded him for a random 2nd back then. And who knows if injuries require the Kings to use the guy a bit.

Last edited 2 months ago by CoreyBrewersD
WizsSox
January 24, 2021 11:11 am
Reply to  Tankathon

Agreed… for all the crap people have poured over not matching Bogi (which I generally agreed with after the Bucks deal crapped out), this group would have been pissed to not pick up the relatively cheap option and lose the asset for nothing. They should be able to get something for him. Injuries happen around the league.

TheGrantNapear
January 24, 2021 12:41 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Nemanja is an asset, makes sense to pick up his option. He’ll be traded before the trade deadline for a 2nd or as part of a larger package.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
January 24, 2021 12:48 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

But that doesn’t jive the story that the Kings tried to trade him in the offseason. If they couldn’t trade him then, why pick up his option to have him sit on the sidelines? Are they just hoping an opportunity shows itself to make a trade, injury perhaps?

RORDOG
January 24, 2021 2:46 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

It can just be a salary thing. He’s more valuable as an asset if the trade partner only has to pay him game checks for half the season or less.

WizsSox
January 24, 2021 4:34 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

It says they “explored trades”…assuming they had discussions. Maybe they were trying to package him and a second to move up…I dunno. Maybe shopping for more than a second rounder which is what we assume the value to be.

Just because they had discussions and nothing came of it doesn’t mean they should have just given up the asset and that they can’t get anything for him. Weren’t getting what they wanted at the time. Its highly unlikely it prevented them from signing someone in free agency with the extra 7 mill.

Last edited 2 months ago by WizsSox
Amonk81
January 24, 2021 6:22 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Yet another thing that points toward organizational dysfunction. Vivek meddling etc.

Carl
January 24, 2021 1:55 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

If he was being shopped around the draft and a decision was made to “bench him in favor of youth,” then why pick up his option?

Agree with Adam on this one. Also, is Nemanja an asset at his salary, when other journeyman vets like Whiteside are making the minimum? I like Nemanja, and I think he makes his teammates better, but I think a second is about the best you can do for him and there’s no guarantee you even get that much.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carl
WizsSox
January 24, 2021 4:38 pm
Reply to  Carl

Well the statement I like Nemanja and he makes his teammates better is something you can’t say about Whiteside soooo….

Carl
January 25, 2021 12:19 pm
Reply to  WizsSox

Sure, but that doesn’t mean Bjelica is three times Whiteside’s value.

RikSmits
January 24, 2021 10:51 am

I hope Bjeli can continue his career at a contender. F%ck it, he deserves that.

RikSmits
January 24, 2021 10:53 am

Whatever the reason for Bjelica’s benching, the coaching staff and front office are operating on two different timelines, and that’s a situation that can’t last forever.

Thanks Vlade Vivek!

Marty
January 24, 2021 11:01 am

This report…signals a divide in strategy between the Kings front office and Walton.

Maybe it just signals that party boy still doesn’t know how to handle the media. Here Luke, let me help you;

Luke Walton on Nemanja Bjelica: “It’s no secret that we’re struggling. As a staff we’re trying to find rotations that work for what we’re trying to do, and minutes have been hard to come by for Bjeli, who is the ultimate professional and remains ready to contribute.”

Then when the rumor comes out (and it will) he’s being shopped, here’s some more help for you Luke;

Luke Walton after being asked about the Bjelica trade rumors;

”Those are internal discussions that I would direct you to Monte, who we’re all working closely with to keep improving. Front office moves aren’t something I’m comfortable talking about as my focus is on getting this team ready for the Clippers.”

Last edited 2 months ago by Marty Marty
TheGrantNapear
January 24, 2021 12:42 pm
Reply to  Marty

Agreed, I don’t think there is a divide betwixt the FO and coaching staff, things just needed be communicated to the media in a clearer fashion.

Marty
January 24, 2021 12:56 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

For years it frustrated me/us hearing Andy Reid answer everything with, “We need to do a better job.”

Now that I’m a little bit older I totally get it, and I even respect him for it now, and if I were a head coach I’d probably do something similar.

NinjaFetus
January 24, 2021 2:29 pm
Reply to  Marty

Are you for hire Marty? Don’t just be giving these away for free!

Amonk81
January 24, 2021 6:25 pm
Reply to  Marty

If the issue is really between McNair and Walton, all the more reason to fire him now.

But this all has Vivek stench in it. These guys are fucking morons

Hobby916
January 25, 2021 5:14 am
Reply to  Amonk81

What leads you to think that this has “Vivek stench” on it?

mdeedublu
January 24, 2021 11:38 am

I’m not convinced this shows there is a divide between coaching and the front office.

Luke’s comments could simply mean “I’m not playing him and he has a problem with that.” as the “personal problem.” And as stated in the article here, Jason Anderson’s message doesn’t make sense when looking at what’s actually going on with the rotations….

But if there is a divide, oh well. I don’t think many of us fans care for Luke and I expect him gone at the end of this season (or sooner) unless he figures out how to make this team win a bunch of games before the season is over.

Brown.says.Good.or.Bad
January 24, 2021 12:07 pm

This is bad

TheGrantNapear
January 24, 2021 12:42 pm

No it’s not

RORDOG
January 24, 2021 2:47 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

TheGrantNapear.disagrees.with.Brown

RORDOG
January 24, 2021 12:29 pm

The takes on this whole affair have been a little too spicy IMO. I don’t think this is any different than when ZBo didn’t play. The Kings want to give Bagley minutes. The Kings hope to flip Bjelly for an extra building block and don’t want to risk injury. I don’t see how this is an example of the coach and front office not being on the same page.

TheGrantNapear
January 24, 2021 12:44 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Well put.
The whole situation is being blown out of proportion. Nemanja seems fine with it and is dealing with it in a respectful, professional way. Bagley’s papa should be taking notes.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
January 24, 2021 12:45 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

I think the difference here is that Z-Bo wasn’t with the team in his final year. He was paid to stay home. Nemanja, however, is dressed, going through warmups and is ready to play.

RORDOG
January 24, 2021 12:50 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

How does that make the situation substantively different though? I’m just saying this doesn’t seem like an example of the coach and GM not being on the same page, or that the rationale is somehow inconsistent with how the rest of the rotational minutes are divvied up.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
January 24, 2021 12:54 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

I agree, I don’t think there is an issue between coach and GM. I’m not seeing any smoke there.

I’m just thinking Nemanja has quietly requested a trade and his benching has nothing to do with a “youth movement,” as evidenced by CoJo and Whiteside getting minutes.

RORDOG
January 24, 2021 1:04 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I think it’s probably just conventional coaching wisdom to have a vet out there to provide leadership. Joseph’s play has been really bad though. I just don’t know if giving Guy Joseph’s minutes means much in the overall scheme of things.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
January 24, 2021 1:10 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Is it any different then giving Metu minutes over Nemanja?

I guess I’m just not buying the youth movement excuse.

RORDOG
January 24, 2021 1:26 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I don’t think it’s a youth movement either. I personally have always kinda questioned how JA frames his articles, so maybe I’m a little biased. But the simplest explanation is Bagley needs guaranteed minutes, and McNair doesn’t want to risk losing Bjelly for nothing in free agency. The youth movement stuff just seems like an incorrect interpretation of the situation.

Carl
January 24, 2021 1:52 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I mean, this is pretty obviously specifically about maximizing Bagley’s minutes. My only real issue here is that it could be perceived as bowing to Bagley’s dad’s whining, and whatever chance Vivek or Dumars made this decision.

In the end, playing Bagley maximum minutes is best, to determine whether he can get better. Along those lines, I don’t think Walton should have made the switch to Barnes on Randle. Bagley thinks he’s All-NBA, and his dad is whining about fourth quarter minutes, so he appears to need a little humbling. If being abused and embarrassed by a non-All Star on a mediocre Eastern Conference team gets that job done, so be it.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carl
NinjaFetus
January 24, 2021 2:49 pm
Reply to  Carl

Along those lines, I don’t think Walton should have made the switch to Barnes on Randle. Bagley thinks he’s All-NBA, and his dad is whining about fourth quarter minutes, so he appears to need a little humbling. If being abused and embarrassed by a non-All Star on a mediocre Eastern Conference team gets that job done, so be it.

This. He’s not going to live up to being a #2 pick, even if he or his dad think so. That is not going to be done without experience on the court, both the good and bad. Get schooled so you learn from the experience, not just the highs. It’s a cliche, but failures are bigger teaching experiences.

WizsSox
January 24, 2021 4:44 pm
Reply to  Carl

I’m all for mins for Bags see what you got mentality…but we do realize Walton coaches a team, not just Bags right? He let him go on Randle for quite awhile. At what point do the other players ask if they are even trying to win the game if you just leave Bagley out there to cook?

You wanna demoralize a bunch of other players and kill Bagleys confidence totally, by all means let Randle go get 20 in the 4th on Bags.

I think the point you are hoping Bagley gets can be communicated with the adequate amount of torching that took place.

Last edited 2 months ago by WizsSox
Otis
January 25, 2021 5:49 am
Reply to  WizsSox

Before we get too quick to jump on the Bagley-hate train, should we look at, you know, actual statistical evidence?

  • Overall, the team was significantly better with Bagley on the floor against the Knicks
  • The Kings outscored the Knicks by 5 in the fourth quarter
  • When Bagley entered the game with 7:13 remaining in the 4th, the Kings were up 9 (86-77)
  • When Bagley came out of the game with 55 seconds left, the Kings were up 11 (101-90)
  • Randle scored 9 in the fourth quarter, not 20

The eye test showed that Bagley did struggle against Randle, certainly. But let’s not pretend the rest of the team was demoralized while extending the lead in the fourth.

CoreyBrewersD
January 24, 2021 7:34 pm
Reply to  Carl

If Walton doesn’t make the switch we are here calling him the worst coach in history? That said Marvin clearly knew he couldn’t guard Randle, in the 4th. if he wasn’t 100% sure, Randle went ahead and told him so. LOL

Hobby916
January 25, 2021 5:21 am
Reply to  CoreyBrewersD

The more Bagley got burned by Randle, the more tape Luke would have to look at!

But seriously, some players would look at that moment of being dominated and get pissed and work on it never happening again. Not sure if Bagley is that type of player or not.

Otis
January 25, 2021 5:37 am
Reply to  Carl

Bagley thinks he’s All-NBA

I really do think the son is getting the heat for the father here. MBIII appears (to me) to be working hard, trying to get better, and staying professional.

Carl
January 25, 2021 2:11 pm
Reply to  Otis

Fair point. I would agree that most of that All-NBA talk came from people around Bagley and Grant F. Napear, and not Bagley himself. Most of it was also in his first season. You hear a lot less of it now. I do believe Bagley continues to have an inflated view of his abilities, but there has been effort and some level of improvement there.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carl
Marty
January 24, 2021 1:03 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Agree Dog. It could be he simply misspoke calling it a “personal issue”, which seems like a fuckup either small or large depending on the interpreter.

RobHessing
January 24, 2021 12:39 pm

Could we lower the age limit a couple more years & get CoJo out of the rotation?

January 24, 2021 12:44 pm

The question is, who is Bjelica being benched in favor of? It’s Marvin Bagley. This is hardly a surprise, the team has chosen to play the former second pick in the draft. That’s a different motivation than going full youth movement.

Has anyone benefitted beside Bagley?

RikSmits
January 24, 2021 1:31 pm

When we were lamenting our awful D, the lack of accountability came up. So now Bagley, who has been awful on D, gets gifted minutes because ‘youth movement’?

That won’t help from an accountability perspective.

GFunkClassic
January 24, 2021 1:48 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

Even from an accountability perspective I’m not sure there’s an argument to be made for Bjelly over Bagley. Bjelly was playing bad on defense and offense. His value is on the offensive end, and when he’s hitting 20% from 3pt range, there’s little value to him being on the court.

RikSmits
January 25, 2021 5:03 am
Reply to  GFunkClassic

Bjelly makes much better decisions on D.

Bagley understands very little about defensive positioning, how to deal with P&R’s, footwork, boxing out etc.

If Marvin gets gifted 30+ minutes per game despite such glaring defensive flaws, what kind of signal is that to him (and the rest of the team)? And how hollow will the words of the coaching staff sound if they preach about defense?

The Hornets coach, Borrego, said recently that LaMelo’s playing time will not increase if his TO’s stay high, after a recent period where he did not take proper care of the ball. That’s how you develop players and create accountability, IMO. YMMV.

Otis
January 25, 2021 5:51 am
Reply to  RikSmits

I simply don’t understand if the point right now is to win or to figure out which players are long term solutions for the team. As much as I love Bjelly, this was his last season here regardless of whether he played or not.

It would be stupid to give him minutes over Marvin (for this team at this time specifically).

RikSmits
January 25, 2021 6:20 am
Reply to  Otis

This is a good question, but sort of sidestepping my point.

It is more stupid to gift our youngsters minutes without them earning it. We have been doing that time after time after time, with little result to show for it.

Einstein had a nice quote about that.

Otis
January 25, 2021 7:26 am
Reply to  RikSmits

It is more stupid to gift our youngsters minutes without them earning it.

Disagree completely – I’d say that’s not stupid at all, in fact it’s how it should be done. Most of the youngsters we’ve drafted just weren’t very good NBA players, as it turns out.

Steph Curry was “gifted” almost 3,000 minutes in his rookie season. Luka Doncic 2,300. Donovan Mitchell 2,600. Devin Booker 2,100. (These are all players we could have drafted, by the way).

Rookie contracts are a ticking clock and require a big decision towards the end of the tenure. The best measure of whether they are going to be good players is getting them NBA minutes.

The exception? Teams that are already good, and have playoff aspirations, IMO. Those are franchises who already have some things figured out…we do not.

I suspect Einstein would have said “draft better players”.

Last edited 2 months ago by Otis
Carl
January 24, 2021 1:46 pm

It also has the appearance that Bagley’s dad has influence over the front office. In the end, this is the right decision, for Bagley to prove he can get better or not and for the Kings to act accordingly.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carl
TheGrantNapear
January 24, 2021 12:51 pm

NOP is starving for floor spacing and three point shooting. Griffin is sitting on a boat load of draft picks. A trade centered around Buddy and a first coming back our way makes a lot of sense.
Buddy can return to the bayou and I think would fit well playing off Zion and Ingram.
He’d be asked to just spot up and shoot, which is all he is capable of doing.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
January 24, 2021 12:59 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Who do they send to match Buddy’s deal?

Hobby916
January 25, 2021 5:28 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Reddick/Ball for Buddy works straight up on the Trade Machine. Not sure how I feel about that for either team.

rc50cal
January 24, 2021 4:33 pm

I have a couple thoughts on this:

  1. I’m fine with Kings moving on as part of a youth movement.
  2. Bjelica was secretly one of the better Kings previous two seasons by RAPTOR, VORP, etc. His floor spacing was valuable and his team defense was serviceable.
  3. Do we add liar to Walton’s list of sins?
Kingsguru21
January 24, 2021 5:15 pm

I just hope the Kings can get something for Bjelly …. but I’m not necessarily optimistic.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
January 24, 2021 6:39 pm

Ok, WTF is going on?

Kosta
January 24, 2021 7:35 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

…Nemanja Bjelica remains out with a personal issue…

comment image

Dirkula
January 24, 2021 11:19 pm

Off topic, but this kinda pisses me off.
im sure he’s just down playing his quickness, but maybe not…
I hate any use of the words “cruise control” when it comes to effort

33019BCC-D66E-45AD-84FF-76AC17D01AB6.jpeg
Kingsguru21
January 25, 2021 9:02 am
Reply to  Dirkula

Seemed more smartassery than anything. And saying he doesn’t play at a full sprint. Which is true. You need to have multiple gears and be able to keep the defense off balance while remaining in your flow.

I don’t see anything wrong with it, personally. But mileage will vary on this one I suspect.

Carl
January 25, 2021 2:17 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Agreed. Fox is saying that he’s even faster than people think he is. I don’t have any issues with that.

1951
January 25, 2021 10:41 am

If BJelly is really being benched for a youth movement then please explain Corey Joseph.

I’ll wait! 😜

Last edited 2 months ago by 1951
RORDOG
January 25, 2021 11:07 am
Reply to  1951

One thing I think we need to keep in mind is Joseph has no trade value. The only way that changes is if he plays better.

1951
January 25, 2021 11:37 am
Reply to  RORDOG

Sure, which circles back to the question of explaining his minutes.

playing him is not helping his trade value, not helping the youth movement, and not really helping the team on the court.

Kingsguru21
January 25, 2021 1:12 pm
Reply to  1951

He’s on the team until the deadline. Then he gets waived.

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