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Wayne Ellington, Markieff Morris Headline Blazers’ Potential Buyout Options

Blazer’s Edge contributor Steve Dewald examines Portland’s options on the buyout market.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Washington Wizards Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Fresh off the passing of the NBA Trade Deadline and a win over the Spurs, the Trail Blazers are set to explore the competitive buyout market. Once the dust is settled from a frantic 48 hours of trading, several established players will enter the open market. Armed with an open roster spot and a squad headed for the postseason, President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has a few tools at his disposal to attract a veteran contributor.

Names like Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez will generate buzz, but the Blazers’ path will likely steer them elsewhere. Matthews appears to be headed to the Pacers, while Lopez has yet to receive a buyout from the Bulls. In addition to those two familiar faces, Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin IV are prohibited from a return to Portland until the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.

According to Olshey’s post-deadline remarks, he is searching for a player that would fit on and off the court. In order for the the Blazers to open their pocket book, a buyout candidate must fulfill a role on the court and fit with the team’s culture. With these qualifiers in mind, here is a look at a few options Olshey could explore.

Additional Shooting

Wayne Ellington | Pos: SG | Age: 31 | Last Team: Heat*

*traded by the Heat to the Suns prior to the deadline

Ellington, a first-round selection by the Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA Draft, was granted his freedom after falling out of the Heat’s rotation. At his best, Ellington is a floor-spacing instant-energy option off the bench. At his worst, he barely moves the needle if his shot isn’t falling.

Last season, Ellington attempted 7.5 three-pointers per game and connected on 39.2 percent of them. Even with Rodney Hood in the fold, the Blazers would be wise to invest in more shooting. Ellington’s limited postseason experience is notable. He has played for seven different teams in the NBA and has appeared in just as many playoff games.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pistons are aggressively pursuing Ellington.

Non-Traditional Power Forwards

Markieff Morris | Pos: PF | Age: 29 | Last Team: Wizards*

*traded by the Wizards to the Pelicans prior to the deadline

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Morris is headed to the open market after the Pelicans acquired him prior to the deadline. Morris has been sidelined with a neck injury for over a month, but he could return to the practice court by the end of February. Capable of doing a bit everything in the frontcourt, Morris would provide the Blazers with extra grit for a postseason push.

Morris’ shooting percentage dipped 43.6 percent this season, but a change of scenery could help him recapture his shooting efficiency from years past. Defensively, when he is engaged, Morris is capable of guarding multiple positions. After spending the first portion of his career in Phoenix, Morris has only made two trips to the playoffs. In the 2016-17 season, his first full year with the Wizards, he appeared in 13 playoff games and averaged 12.1 points.

Michael Beasley | Pos: PF | Age: 30 | Last Team: Lakers*

*traded by the Lakers to the Clippers prior to the deadline

Beasley’s brief tenure with the Lakers came to an end on Thursday. The enigmatic forward will be released by the Clippers—allowing him to explore his options on the open market. On paper, Beasley is considered a stretch four. His 17.6 three-point percentage this season indicates otherwise.

The Blazers had rumored interest in Beasley this past summer, but there is a decent chance that has changed since the offseason.

Center Insurance

Marcin Gortat | Pos: C | Age: 34 | Last Team: Clippers

Gortat is firmly in the twilight stage of his career. Both his points and rebounding numbers have plummeted in recent years, but his experience could be coveted by the Blazers. Gortat is a seasoned veteran with a long playoff history. At age 24, Gortat averaged averaged 11.3 minutes per game on an Orlando squad that marched through the Eastern Conference on its way to the 2009 NBA Finals.

This wouldn’t be the flashiest move, but Gortat’s presence would give the Blazers insurance in the post. He has expressed interest in joining the Warriors, but it is unclear if Golden State shares the same enthusiasm.

Enes Kanter | Pos: C | Age: 26 | Last Team: Knicks

Outside of Matthews, Kanter might be the most pursued buyout candidate on the market. It is clear that the Turkish center has been on Olshey’s radar in the past. The Blazers signed Kanter to a four-year, $70 million offer sheet deal back in 2015. Offensively, Kanter would give the Blazers another valuable scoring option off the bench.

Unlike some of the other players on this list, Kanter is primed to receive a handful of decent offers this summer. With one eye on the future, Kanter will likely make playing time his primary priority. With Jusuf Nurkic entrenched at center, the former Knicks big man will probably look to other potential suitors.