First-rounder has been playing in Serbia

Updated: July 27, 2004, 7:39 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN.com

The New Jersey Nets have reached an agreement with 2002 first-round pick Nenad Krstic, his agent, David Bauman, told ESPN Insider Chad Ford on Monday.

Krstic signed his contract with the Nets on Tuesday.

Krstic, who spent the last two seasons playing for Partizan Belgrade in Serbia (part-owned by Lakers center Vlade Divac), reached a buyout with his club on Monday clearing the way for him to play for the Nets.

Because Krstic was a first-round pick, the contract will be a standard three-year rookie contract.

Krstic is expected to be the starting power forward/center for the Serbia-Montenegro team at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens this summer.

"I look forward to playing in the NBA," Krstic said. "I learned a lot playing for Partizan and winning a national championship with them. I am excited about coming to play for the Nets and helping to get the team back to the NBA Finals."

The Nets drafted the 6-foot-11 center, sight unseen, with the 24th pick in the 2002 draft. He's a favorite of Divac, who tried to sneak him into the draft as a favor to the Kings. The Nets caught wind and drafted him, stunning just about everyone. Krstic, who turns 21 this summer, went on to have a stellar season in 2002-03 for Partizan in Serbia, averaging 15 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.

An early injury kept him out much of the 2003-04 season, but he came on strong late, averaging 13.4 points per game. He averaged just 2.8 rebounds a game over the season, though, which is a bit of a concern for someone his size. Krstic has a great mid-range jumper, is a good athlete and passer and an excellent free-throw shooter. He's an above-average scorer at his position, but he'll have to add some toughness and rebounding in the NBA. Still, Krstic could be the Nets' long-term answer in the middle.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider