The Portland Trail Blazers’ plan in NBA Free Agency is sure to be centered on expected restricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic. The big man could command a big offer sheet in free agency that puts a further stranglehold on Portland’s payroll. If the Blazers elect to not match a huge offer sheet, they’ll likely look for another center to step into the starting role if they’re resigned to Ed Davis (a free agent himself) and Zach Collins coming off the bench for another year.
With a Nurkic-less Blazers team, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report sees Brook Lopez as a possible replacement:
Lopez would offer Portland a new offensive dimension, as the current core has never played with a reliable outside threat at the center spot. Mason Plumlee preceded Nurkic, and neither had range beyond the restricted area.
Lopez, an unrestricted free agent who probably doesn’t figure into the Los Angeles Lakers’ future plans, abruptly became a long-range threat in 2016-17. He converted 34.6 percent of a whopping 387 attempts that year. He hit 34.5 percent of his 325 attempts this past season in L.A.
However, Lopez would have to be willing to take a pay cut in order to make a move work:
Defensively limited and liable to get played off the floor against smaller, more versatile opponents, Lopez is still an offensive weapon who should open up more room for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. If he’s willing to take the taxpayer’s MLE, Lopez is a fine fit.
Lopez averaged 13 points and four rebounds per game last season. His brother, Robin, played for the Blazers from 2013-15.