Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will be one of the better pivots to hit NBA Free Agency this July, but not everybody is convinced of the value of the restricted free agent to his current team or prospective suitors. Writing for Bleacher Report, Dan Favale warns the Blazers and the Sacramento Kings that spending big bucks on the Bosnian Beast might not be worth the eventual payoff.
First Favale waves off Portland from their own guy, saying they have better options available.
Voluntarily moving on from Jusuf Nurkic toes the line of bold for the Blazers, but they’re on the verge of paying a massive luxury-tax bill. They shouldn’t be giving a significant sum of money to a big who can be played off the floor by more mobile 5s.
Retaining Ed Davis should come much cheaper, and the Blazers also have Zach Collins, who should be playing more minutes at center. That duo will get them by without nuking the bank.
Then Favale cautions that the Kings can’t afford to spend money and can’t afford to miss, making Nurkic a risky prospect.
Upgrading to a more polished center will hold a certain appeal. Jusuf Nurkic isn’t the most efficient back-to-the-basket scorer (he placed in the 27th percentile of post-up efficiency), but he’s comfortable in a higher usage role. And he just helped helm one of the NBA’s top rim defenses for an entire season.
Nurkic won’t turn 24 until August, so his window doesn’t run counter to the Kings’ timeline. The Blazers’ cap situation only makes him easier to steal. They’re up against the luxury tax, and he’s not a sure thing like Clint Capela or Nikola Jokic (team option).
Still, the Kings should distance themselves from Nurkic or any other big who figures to cost more than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Their young fliers aren’t throwaways, and Nurkic’s rim protection won’t seem as heavenly outside Portland’s conservative, behemoth friendly scheme.
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Nurkic averaged 14.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in 26.4 minutes of play for the Trail Blazers last season, shooting 50.5% from the field. All those numbers except field goal percentage (50.7% in 2016-17) represented career highs for the fourth-year center.