What happens with Jusuf Nurkic and his impending free agency is a question that will continue to hang around the Portland Trail Blazers. Nurkic will have the opportunity to become a restricted free agent this summer, potentially up for the first major payday of his career.
However, he’ll have to compete with fellow free agents for the little money teams have left. Adam Fromal of Bleacher Report ranks Nurkic as the No. 5 free-agent center this summer:
If you only watched Jusuf Nurkic during nationally televised outings, you’d be convinced this 23-year-old center was a max-contract candidate set to take the league by storm—the center version of the old Rajon Rondo effect, if you will. But the reality isn’t quite so rosy, since Nurkic has a habit of underperforming and then putting together one marquee outing that buys him a longer leash.
On the flip side, those outings allow for lasting belief that he’ll eventually put the pieces together and become a two-way threat.
Nurkic had some stellar games during Portland’s 13-game win streak, and he even kept the Blazers close enough against the Rockets to almost push it to 14. But, he’s still very much growing as a player, which requires tough love from head coach Terry Stotts at times.
Keeping up his momentum for the rest of the season and into the playoffs would be huge for the Blazers, but it may also be huge for the type of contract offer(s) he gets.
DeAndre Jordan, Clint Capela, DeMarcus Cousins and Nikola Jokic round out the top five of Fromal’s rankings for centers.