THE Sacramento Kings could soon get a new European star on the roster, joining Lithuania’s Domantas Sabonis in the frontcourt.
Bulgarian power forward Sasha Vezenkov, 27, is ready for a move across the pond after a dominant 2022-23 season with Olympiacos that earned him the EuroLeague MVP honor.
Vezenkov’s name has been doing rounds in the NBA world since 2017 when the Brooklyn Nets selected the 6-foot-9 forward with the 57th pick in the draft.
The Nets stashed the Greek-born player so he returned to Barcelona — where his role bizarrely diminished, likely because of his NBA hopes.
Brooklyn ended up trading his draft rights to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the blockbuster James Harden trade before they exchanged them for the 49th pick in the 2022 draft in a deal with the Kings.
In the meantime, Vezenkov signed with Olympiacos in 2018 and the forward’s career took off soon after — despite the club’s astonishing conflict with the basketball federation that led to a two-year absence in the Greek top tier.
Notably, the forward quickly proved to be a more than capable shooter, knocking down more than 40.8 percent of his 3s in the EuroLeague between 2019-2021.
This year, he led the EuroLeague in scoring with 17.6 points per game while making 37.8 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Vezenkov also averaged 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 0.9 steals and shot an impressive 65.5 percent from the field to claim the competition’s MVP award.
With the star forward on the court, Olympiacos made the EuroLeague final where they lost to Real Madrid.
But they have a chance to defend the Greek championship in the final series against archenemies Panathinaikos, possibly celebrating their return to the league with back-to-back titles.
Vezenkov has become a hard-working, high-IQ stretch forward with a flexible wrist that allows him to lay the ball in with grace.
Meanwhile, the mechanics of his jumper are Steph Curry-esque with a quick smooth release and a beautiful high arc.
And the forward’s growth hasn’t gone unnoticed in Sacramento.
Head coach Mike Brown attended Olympiacos’ playoff clash with Fenerbahce – and he liked what he saw from the forward.
“He leaves room for his teammates, he cuts well, he shoots well from three, he has toughness, he fights for rebounds,” the NBA’s freshly-anointed coach of the year told Greek media.
“The way he shoots from the three-point range is something we like, he handles the space very well, he’s quick, he’ll be an effective player in the NBA at a high level, especially with the toughness he shows.
“He’s fearless and I love that.”
Multiple reports suggest Vezenkov will finally move his talents to the NBA this summer.
But the forward remains level-headed.
“I feel very good when specialists and coaches say nice words [about me] but I know it’s a business and it’s all about how, what, and when,” he recently said.
“We agreed that it would be fairest to finish the EuroLeague season and then talk. We’ll see if they have a specific offer.
“I’m ready for new challenges but, as I’ve said before, Athens and Olympiacos are my home and I feel great.
“For me, the most important thing is what’s best for my future.”