Turkey and European champions Fenerbahçe's Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic will become the highest-paid rookie in NBA history after agreeing to a three-year deal worth $36 million with the Sacramento Kings, the Sacramento Bee reported. The 24-year-old from Belgrade, who helped Serbia capture 2016 Rio Olympic silver, was this season's Turkish League Most Valuable Player while leading Fenerbahçe to its first EuroLeague title last month. Bogdanovic - who has no relation to Croatian guard Bojan Bogdanovic of the Washington Wizards - averaged 14.6 points while hitting 43 percent from 3-point range.
The contract cannot be signed until July 6, when an NBA moratorium on free agent deals ends. Bogdanovic was drafted by the Phoenix Suns three years ago, so his contract is not locked into the NBA rookie salary scale, according to AFP. Kings general manager Vlade Divac, himself a double Olympic silver medalist for Yugoslavia, has no players still on the roster from when he took over in 2015. Sacramento obtained the rights to Bogdanovic last year during the NBA Draft in a trade with the Phoenix, which had taken him with the 27th pick in the 2014 draft.
All it takes is a glance at Fenerbahçe's record to see how important the play of Bogdan Bogdanovic has been to the club, according to Euroleague's website. Fenerbahçe was a losing team when he sat out (6-7), but won 17 of 22 when he played. Bogdanovic peaked late in the season as Fenerbahçe won their last six games to sweep their playoff series and win their first Turkish Airlines EuroLeague championship. His importance was recognized as Bogdanovic was named MVP for April and then to the All-EuroLeague First Team for the first time. He came up big under the bright lights of the Final Four in Istanbul with 14 points, six rebounds and six fouls drawn in the semifinal against Real Madrid and 17 points and five rebounds versus Olympiacos in the championship game. Bogdanovic was Fenerbahçe's top scorer in the Final Four (15.5 ppg.) and for the season (14.6 ppg.), but he helped the team in many ways with 3.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 3.9 fouls drawn per game. A two-time EuroLeague Rising Star award winner, Bogdanovic has now realized his full potential to become one of the very best players in European basketball.
Meanwhile, Fenerbahçe and guard Kostas Sloukas have agreed to stay together for a few more seasons. Fenerbahce also re-signed forward Barış Hersek (2.07 meters, 29 years old), who has spent the past two seasons with the club, too. Hersek only played in three EuroLeague games last season after appearing in 18 contests the season before. He played more frequently in the Turkish League, where he averaged 1.7 points in 24 games. Hersek, who has represented Turkey at the Basketball World Cup and EuroBasket championships, previously played in the EuroLeague for Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Besiktas as well as Darussafaka, Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir, Banvit and Antlaya, all in Turkey.
Elsewhere in NBA, Chris Paul is heading to Houston to join James Harden, giving the Rockets two All-Stars in the backcourt to lead their chase for a championship, according to AP.In the NBA's second blockbuster trade in less than a week, the Rockets acquired Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a protected first-round pick next year and cash considerations. The Rockets acquired Hilliard from Detroit and Liggins from Dallas for cash considerations before adding them to the deal.
"It's a weapons race in the NBA and you're either in the weapons race or on the sidelines," Houston general manager Daryl Morey said. "We felt like with James Harden in his prime and Chris Paul in his prime this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams that are out there. This puts us right there with them."