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Gonzaga Basketball

Whirlwind week for Filip Petrusev continues with trade to Sacramento Kings

Philadelphia’s Filip Petrušev leaps for a loose ball against New York during an NBA Summer League game on Saturday, July 8, 2023, at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nev.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Former Gonzaga center Filip Petrusev hardly had time to settle in to his new home before learning he was on the move again.

One day after being sent from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a deal involving All-Star guard James Harden, Petrusev was traded to the Sacramento Kings, where he’ll have an opportunity to learn under fellow ex-Bulldogs big man Domantas Sabonis.

Forty-eight hours after making his NBA debut for the Sixers, who drafted Petrusev in 2021 before stashing him in Europe for two seasons and signing him to an NBA contract this summer, the Serbian big man was sent to Los Angeles as part of a seven-player trade centered around Harden.

There’d been some indication the Clippers may not retain Petrusev, with a fairly deep stable of players in their frontcourt, and now he’ll vie for a rotation spot in Sacramento, where playing time could also be sparse for a team that went 48-34 during the 2022-23 regular season and earned a No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

Sabonis, who left Gonzaga after the 2015-16 season – four years before Petrusev arrived – is off to another strong start in Sacramento, averaging 17.7 points, 15.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists through three games.

Whether the Kings use Petrusev as a center or power forward could determine if and how much he’s able to get on the court . The Kings start four small forwards and guards around Sabonis and have used veteran center Javale McGee and rookie forward Sasha Vezenkov, a Cyprus native, off the bench.

Sacramento’s roster also features journeyman center Alex Len, a Ukraine native who averaged 6.2 minutes per game last season.

In a brief cameo against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, Petrusev played 3 minutes in his NBA debut, didn’t attempt a shot and grabbed one rebound.