NBA Free Agency, Portland Trail Blazers

Blazers sign Jusuf Nurkic before another offer sheet is handed out

The Portland Trail Blazers bring back starting center Jusuf Nurkic before another team can make him an offer.

Not wanting to sit around and wait for another team to send an offer sheet, the Portland Trail Blazers re-signed restricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic to a four-year deal.

Nurkic had been rumored to be part of a potential sign-and-trade with DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans, but the deal was nixed as the two centers share an agent. Instead, Nurkic will return to Portland, where he averaged 14.3 points and nine rebounds in 79 games last season.

Portland acquired Nurkic and Memphis’ 2017 first-round pick from Denver in February 2017 in exchange for Mason Plumlee, a 2018 second-round pick,and cash considerations. Since joining the Blazers, Nurkic has given them an imposing presence in the paint that does a lot of the dirty work for guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. His defense and bruising offensive style wear quickly on opponents and himself.

The Blazers lost forward Ed Davis to the Brooklyn Nets earlier in the offseason. Losing Nurkic to a potential offer sheet would have severely hampered their frontcourt. With no cap space and only a mini mid-level exception to spend, the front office would have needed to get creative to fill out the rotation. This is a good price for a reliable starting center, especially given Portland’s current cap sheet.

The 23-year-old still has upside as a defender and pick-and-roll partner for Lillard. Consistency has been an issue for him throughout his time in Portland. If he’s able to show up to work for 30 minutes a night instead of 25, there’s no telling what he’s capable of.

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