The Portland Trail Blazers and Jusuf Nurkic approach the 2018 NBA Free Agency period needing to settle on a contract. Having completed his fourth year in the league, Nurkic now becomes a Restricted Free Agent, able to solicit offers from other suitors. The Blazers have the option to match any offer sheet Nurkic signs, retaining his services. Portland also has the freedom to negotiate independently with their starting center, preempting the process, but according to a report from Bosnian site klix.ba (story in its original Bosnian form), the Blazers will not pursue that option. An interview with Bosnian National Team Coach Duško Vujošević reads as follows, translated through Google:
I had a conversation with Nurkić, he was recently in Belgrade, this time he will not be able to compete quite rightly. I think he will appear in the gathering, but he was very positive, he can not play because he has contracted out, and his club is has taken the strategy of wanting to extend the deal by waiting for the highest bid and paying the same amount, not before the match with Belgium and it is unrealistic to expect a man without a contract and the ability to be so insured enough to be there.
The quote comes with caveats. Translation is tricky business. We don’t know how close the connection is between Nurkic and the National Team coach. There’s been a previous report quoting the director of the national basketball team, Siniša Kovačević, saying that Nurkic “has an agreement already in place”. Vujošević made a differing statement two days later and this quote appears to double down on it.
Nurkic averaged 14.3 points and 9.0 rebounds for the Blazers this season. Portland is obligated to $110.5 million in salary next year without Nurkic’s contract factored in. The NBA salary cap for 2018-19 is projected to be $101 million; the luxury tax threshold is projected at $123 million.