The Portland Trail Blazers will not extend a qualifying offer to Shabazz Napier, allowing the 6’1 point guard to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports first reported the news.
Sources: Portland will not extend a qualifying offer to guard Shabazz Napier, allowing him to enter July 1 as an unrestricted free agent. Napier had a strong season as a reserve guard for the Trail Blazers.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2018
Portland had the option to offer Napier a $3.5 million, one-year qualifying offer. This would have allowed Napier to seek better offers on the market, which the Blazers would have had the option to match. This would have created a cap hold against their ledger during the upcoming free agency period. Napier could have agreed to play next season at that salary if no better deals were forthcoming. Instead Portland passed on the offer, the obligation, matching rights, and Napier.
The Blazers already carry $115.2 million minimum in guaranteed salary, counting the qualifying offer they extended to center Jusuf Nurkic this week. That includes 9 players. The obligation is already above the cap, but it’s short of the luxury tax and luxury tax apron. Releasing Napier will not give them cap space but may allow them to employ exceptions without running afoul of the apron.
Technically, Portland could negotiate with Napier for a deal smaller than the qualifying offer. If Napier agreed to it, they could retain him that way. In most years, this would be considered unlikely. This summer’s free agency dollars may run dry. If Napier can’t find a good deal elsewhere, he’s not prohibited from signing with the Blazers.
Napier averaged 8.7 points last season in 20.7 minutes per game. His two-year tenure in Portland yielded averages of 6.8 points aand 1.7 assists on 41.5% shooting, 37.4% from the arc in 127 total appearances. Napier will be 27 when the 2018-19 season begins in October.