The Philadelphia 76ers have officially transitioned from a rebuilding team to a contending one in the Eastern Conference. The addition of free agent Nemanja Bjelica was supposed to enhance the roster for next season.
The 6-foot-10 Bjelica has established himself as a legitimate "stretch 4" in his three seasons in the NBA since coming over from Europe. Now, in a surprising move, the sharpshooting big man is headed back overseas.
Bjelica had previously agreed to a one-year deal with Philly, but has now elected to return to Europe. He informed the team this morning, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
He never signed with Philly, so he is free to make the move.
A 2010 second-round pick of the Washington Wizards out of Serbia, Bjelica finally came over to America in 2015. In three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he connected on 37 percent of his three-point attempts and averaged 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Bjelica's size and three-point shooting would have played very well alongside Ben Simmons in Philly. Simmons is at his best when he is a playmaker, so putting shooters around him and big man Joel Embiid is a major part of Philly's success.
The 76ers should be able to survive not having Bjelica next year, but it will sting not having his production and skill set available off the bench.