After the 2018 NBA Playoffs and NBA Draft are complete, free agency will loom for the Portland Trail Blazers. Already over the salary cap with guaranteed contracts in hand, the Blazers are more likely to lose incumbent free agents than gain new ones come July. Those potential losses include center Jusuf Nurkic, point guard Shabazz Napier, wing Pat Connaughton, and big man Ed Davis. The viability of keeping any member of that quartet will depend on their perceived value, not just to the Blazers, but to the league as a whole, particularly since Nurkic, Connaughton, and Napier will be restricted free agents.
Austin Kent of HoopsRumors evaluated the stock of all four Blazers free agents in an article this week, asking whether their value has risen or fallen and how invested the Blazers will be in retaining them.
On Nurkic (stock up):
Were it not for the Blazers’ financial binds, bringing back the Bosnian Beast on a significant deal would be a no-brainer. Alas, making or matching a significant offer for the big man would vault Portland well into the luxury tax, something that we’re not quite sure the club is willing to do yet. It would be a shame for the Blazers to watch Nurkic walk for nothing, so expect them to work the phones aggressively to see if they can find a way to make it work. If they can’t, he’ll get paid elsewhere, even with a glut of other available centers on the market.
On Connaughton (stock up):
The dual-threat athlete won’t break the bank as a restricted free agent, but could be a welcomed addition should the Blazers look to bring the familiar face back on the cheap.
On Davis (stock down):
...he’s a replaceable piece of the current puzzle.
On Napier (stock up):
It’s hard to imagine Olshey digging deep to match an aggressive offer from a team with cap space to spare but that wouldn’t be for a lack of interest.
Check out Kent’s article for more analysis of, and nuance about, Portland’s free agents. Do you agree with his assessment of the value of these four players? It’s not hard to imagine the Los Angeles Lakers, among others, bidding for Davis’ services. It might be harder to imagine Connaughton becoming a prize piece. What’s your opinion? Whom does Kent undersell and overvalue?