The Trail Blazers are looking to remain active in the trade market after dealing Mason Plumlee to the Nuggets for Jusuf Nurkic. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Portland is looking to dump Festus Ezeli’s contract before the February 23 trade deadline.
Sources say Portland is determined to move injured center Festus Ezeli before the deadline and is pitching him in particular to teams well below the salary floor that would be willing to take on Ezeli's contract with some level of draft compensation attached. This is the first year of a two-year deal for Ezeli that pays $7.4 million this season but is guaranteed for only $1 million next season. Denver ($7.6 million), Philadelphia ($7.5 million) and Brooklyn ($6.8 million) are the three teams that sit the farthest under the the league's $84.7 million salary floor.
Ezeli has been unable to join the active roster after signing a two-year deal over the summer. The former Golden State big man underwent a knee injection before the regular season, and was rumored to be contemplating season-ending knee surgery in December. Unloading Ezeli’s contract would give the Trail Blazers more salary cap flexibility moving forward.
As Stein mentioned, Olshey will likely have to add draft compensation to a deal including the injured center. After adding another 2017 first round draft pick from the Nurkic deal, Portland has a larger arsenal of assets to deal from.