Bojan Bogdanovic drives on Jeff Green during a 2012 exhibition game. (David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images)
UPDATE: CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger shares a report from Turkish site TrendBasket suggesting Bogdanovic is close to a new three-year deal with Fenerbahçe, which would seem to cast even more doubt on the future prospects for his arrival in Brooklyn.
Just when the Brooklyn Nets appeared to be finished retooling their bench for the 2013-14 season, the July 10 end of the NBA’s moratorium on trades and free-agent signings presented a bit of a snag.
General manager Billy King told reporters at the NBA’s Orlando Summer League on Wednesday morning that he was “concerned” about being able to successfully import 2011 second-round draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic, with whom Brooklyn had agreed to terms on a three-year contract last week. Completing that agreement, though, would mean reaching a deal with Fenerbahçe Ülker, the Turkish team for whom the 24-year-old small forward has played the past two seasons, on a buyout of the final season of Bogdanovic’s European contract.
The most the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement would allow the Nets to contribute to such a buyout would be $575,000, according to Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ; Fenerbahçe had reportedly been seeking $2 million in exchange for letting Bogdanovic walk, and the balance would have to come out of his NBA salary (which reportedly would have started at around $2.5 million this season). That, obviously, is quite a gulf, and a bit of a problem for Bogdanovic, which turned into a bit of a problem for Brooklyn.
Shortly after King aired his concerns, NetsDaily reported that the Nets had “decided to ‘move on’ without [Bogdanovic] and will pursue ‘Plan B,'” with a league source terming the decision “final and definite.” Multiple sources soon confirmed as much to Howard Beck of the New York Times before King himself shared the news with Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. So — for right now, at least — it appears that there’ll be no Bojan in Brooklyn.
“For right now” is key. The Nets will reportedly still retain the NBA rights to the Croatian forward — who’s reportedly a legitimate long-range threat who hit 40.5 percent of his 3-pointers in Euroleague play and 38 percent in Turkish League games for Fenerbahçe this season, and who can also make some things happen off the dribble — and will have another opportunity to sign him and bring him over to the States next summer. However, waiting another year opens up the opportunity that Fenerbahçe or another European club could present the 6-foot-7 (or 6-foot-8, depending on who you talk to) shooter with a lucrative long-term offer that keeps him across the sea for even longer.
In the short term stateside, the scuttling of Bogdanovic’s deal presents King and the Nets with the problem of having no real backup to soon-to-be-acquired starting small forward Paul Pierce. The ranks of available and viable three-men are growing thinner by the second in free agency, meaning Brooklyn’s brass could find themselves scrambling for a strong, depth-providing fit on the wing with only the taxpayer’s midlevel exception (which starts at just under $3.2 million this season) at their disposal in making signings. From Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:
Now the team will have to go in another direction to find depth behind him, with King saying that using the full mid-level on one player, or splitting it to use on multiple players, are both possible scenarios in play for the team if Bogdanovic doesn’t take it.
“There’s one [player worth the full exception], possibly,” King said, “and then there’s some other guys that maybe we’ll split it up and give it to a couple guys to fill the role.”
One possible option is Russian Andrei Kirilenko, who has been linked to the Nets multiple times over the last couple of seasons due to his relationship with owner Mikhail Prokhorov. But Kirilenko turned down a $10 million player option for this upcoming season to stay in Minnesota, and while he isn’t expected to get that much money on his new deal, it remains to be seen if he’d be willing to come to the Nets for the $3.183 million they’d be able to offer him using the full mini-mid level exception.
Kirilenko would figure to be an absolute godsend for Brooklyn, and the market for him appears to be less robust than he anticipated when he declined to pick up his player option with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that contract talks between the Wolves and the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs on a sign-and-trade that would have landed the 32-year-old Russian forward in Texas fell by the wayside, and after myriad agreed-upon signings and trades go through, there might not be a whole lot of teams with significant cap space left.
That said, a three- or four-year deal for the mini-MLE still feels way too light for Kirilenko’s services, making it more likely that the Nets find themselves discount-shopping in search of wing depth behind the about-to-turn-36 Pierce and Joe Johnson, who last season battled plantar fasciitis in his left foot so debilitating that he called himself a “decoy” during Brooklyn’s first-round series against the Chicago Bulls. Reducing regular-season minutes and stress for Brooklyn’s veteran lineup will be key for new Nets coach Jason Kidd if he wants to have a full-strength roster ready to contend come playoff time; it’ll be interesting to see what King can dig up in the free-agent bargain bin in the days ahead.