Jusuf Nurkic re-signed with the Portland Trail Blazers last Friday as NBA Free Agency had begun to wind down. Nurkic’s four-year deal could reach up to $54 million with incentives, but will likely be $48 million (only $4 million of Nurkic’s fourth year on the contract is guaranteed as well). Zach Lowe of ESPN reports Portland didn’t have face any “serious competition” for Nurkic, and also likens the situation to Mason Plumlee’s extension with the Denver Nuggets:
Portland faced no serious competition for Jusuf Nurkic before inking him to a four-year, $48 million deal -- with only $4 million guaranteed in Year 4, per league sources. On the surface, it resembles Denver bailing out Mason Plumlee with a three-year, $41 million deal when Plumlee had nowhere else to turn. Portland could have played hardball, and dared Nurkic to take the one-year qualifying offer -- a scenario in which he would have become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season.
Lowe also highlights how Nurkic’s contract could prove to be much more valuable as a trade piece than Plumee’s deal:
Play well, and Nurkic’s floor next summer -- when many more teams will have cap room -- might have been the full midlevel exception. Portland paid him slightly more than that as a tradeoff for locking in four seasons. The Blazers maintain good will with Nurkic (and agents around the league), and preserve a trade asset.
Nurkic is better than Plumlee, and will earn less per season as the cap jumps toward $110 million and then $120 million. Portland should eventually be able to trade Nurkic for at least neutral value. The Nuggets cannot trade Plumlee without attaching an asset.
Nurkic is part of the restricted free agents section of Lowe’s “Winner and losers” column, which you can read here.