Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will become a restricted free agent in July, joining a caravan of NBA free agents hoping to cash in on a long contract with sizable paychecks. At 23 years of age, Nurkic has plenty of room to grow. Unless they move multiple players, the Blazers will not save any cap space (as opposed to luxury tax dollars) if he leaves. For those reasons, Portland is likely to match any offer he’s given. But Frank Urbina of HoopsHype.com wondered aloud this week where Nurkic could end up if the Blazers opted not to retain him. According to Urbina, likely destinations could include the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, and Washington Wizards.
Of the Mavericks, Urbina says:
If nothing else, Nurkic is a strong finisher down low and a decent rebounder, with relatively quick feet for a man of his girth, making him a potentially solid fit next to Nowitzki. And maybe playing under a head coach like Rick Carlisle unlocks another level to his play.
Financially, if the Mavs are actually interested in making this acquisition happen, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as expensive as trying to sign [DeAndre Jordan], [DeMarcus] Cousins or [Julius] Randle.
Urbina cites cap space and the need to support power forward John Collins with a big body as reasons Nurkic could be attractive to Atlanta. Then he discusses the rumored rift between All-Star point guard John Wall and veteran center Marcin Gortat as grist for the Wizards’ mill. Washington will not have cap space to make Nurkic an organic free agent offer but could max out the mid-level exception to give him a four-year deal.
Though Washington would only be able to offer him the standard mid-level exception, they could entice Nurkic by presenting him with the full four years, making the contract a four-year, $34.4 million agreement.
Portland would probably love to be able to bring Nurkic back on a deal with an annual average value of $8.6 million, but there’s a chance the full four years scare them off.
I don’t see much chance of the Blazers giving up Nurkic for the cost of a mid-level veteran, but it’d be interesting to see him with the Wizards. Where do you think Nurkic would fit best, if not in Portland? Do you think anybody will make a serious run at him?
Nurkic averaged 14.3 point and 9.0 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game for the Blazers this year.