The Portland Trail Blazers signed free agent center Festus Ezeli to a bargain contract due to worries about his knees, reports ESPN's Marc J. Spears:
Festus Ezeli's two-year deal paying close to $15 million with Blazers was less money-wise than expected due to knee concerns, a source said.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) July 10, 2016
The two-year, $15m deal (with a team option for the second year) was applauded as an unbelievable value for a free agent once expected to command north of $15m per year. While this latest report may explain Ezeli's discount contract, the Blazers are at relatively little risk, as the second-year team option allows Portland to release Ezeli next year without consequence should his knees become bothersome.
Ezeli has had trouble with both knees: he missed the entire 2013-14 season after surgery on his RIGHT knee to "reinforce ligaments," reportedly both his medial collateral ligament (MCL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). He then underwent arthroscopic surgery to "clean debris" from his LEFT knee in February of 2016.
Ezeli averaged 7.0 points, 5.6 boards, and 1.1 blocks in 16.7 minutes per game over 46 appearances last season.