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New deal done, NBA Summer League awaits for Vasiljevic

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On the back of a brilliant return season from a torn achilles, there was never any doubt that Dejan Vasiljevic would secure a fresh contract with the Sydney Kings but it didn't stop the sharpshooter from sweating over the negotiations.

Vasiljevic locked in a three-year deal with the Kings earlier this week, making the 25-year-old the first member of the championship-winning starting five to re-sign with the franchise.

"It was stressful, I'll give you that," Vasiljevic told ESPN's Ball and the Real World Podcast. "I was getting a phone call every two hours, in the early hours of the morning, late hours of the night. We were just trying to get things done, just playing phone tag back and forth, but I'm glad to be back with the Sydney Kings.

"They were going back and forth with my agent and the Kings trying to make sure everything was right. It took us seven days to get it sorted but those seven days were really stressful. But ever since I signed I'm much more relaxed so it's a big weight off my shoulders."

With one box ticked in what is set to be a busy offseason, Vasiljevic has signalled his intention to head to Las Vegas for NBA Summer League.

"I'm supposed to know at the end of this week or early next week which team I'll be playing for and I'm leaving later this month so it will be interesting to see which team," Vasiljevic said. "My agent is taking his time because I want to be somewhere where I can earn the minutes and play and showcase what I can do. He's not just throwing me on a team where I can be on the bench."

The decision to showcase his talents at Summer League comes at the expense of representing the Boomers in Melbourne later this month, though he was approached to be a part of what is expected to be an NBL-heavy squad.

"Basketball Australia reached out; I had a few people calling me at once saying they would like to have me. I didn't have a chance to go to Summer League after college because of covid and last year because I tore my achilles so for me I just want an opportunity to go and showcase what I can do at a young age.

"I said I'll always put my hand up for the Boomers so if another opportunity comes around to play, I'll 100 percent put on the green and gold."

Securing a Summer League berth will put the finishing touches on the first chapter of a remarkable return to the court from the achilles injury, with Melbourne United's Jack White set to follow a similar path with both putting together impressive NBL22 campaigns after the dreaded long-term setback.

Vasiljevic and White remained in regular contact throughout the NBL season, despite the respective teams jostling for position near the top of the standings.

"He plays for United, I play for Sydney; we kind of set aside the rivalry. I've known him for a while, we were exchanging notes, I know our physios were calling each other once a week to exchange notes and see if they were doing anything different.

"We're both great young talents, he had a remarkable rookie year as well, so for him to go down and me [as well] -- you don't want that in young guys. We would talk once or twice a week easy, get on the phone, exchange messages, and go from there. We're happy to be back."

With an NBA and European out clause in his new deal, a strong showing in Vegas could lead to a lucrative overseas deal for one of the best outside marksmen in the country.

"Sydney is really good with that stuff because they understand I can play high-level Europe, there is a chance I could play NBA and they aren't going to stop me from pursuing my dreams," Vasiljevic said.

"If it doesn't work out this year, I'm glad to be back with the Sydney Kings, defend the championship and go from there.

"Signing this new contract, they told me to come prepared because I'm going to be one of the main guys. We don't know what imports we will bring in, we're not sure if [Xavier Cooks] will come back, he had a fantastic year."

For the next few weeks, the development continues in NBL1 with Diamond Valley, with some new tricks on show to the delight of many but not all.

"[I'm] just trying to explore different shots. When I'm working with my trainer, I try to implement it in games, posting up, making moves, reading the defence.

"Obviously when you play the NBA the 3-point line is further, sometimes they'll play you right on the line, so you have to be a little further out. I'm just exploring having fun with it.

"My dad hates it, the threes I be pulling up for, he hates. But again, I'm practicing those, and I hit most of those.

"You might see that in the NBL if I start launching from there."

Catch the full conversation with Dejan Vasiljevic on the Ball and the Real World podcast - available wherever you get your podcasts.