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Blazers Bargain Shopping: Available Big Men

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A look at the free agent centers that are available for the Trail Blazers.

Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets - Game Two Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2019 NBA offseason is cascading to a close, but the Trail Blazers still have two open roster spots. Kawhi Leonard’s decision to head to the Clippers put the last free-agent domino in place—opening up the hunt for low-cost veterans. Assuming the Blazers are in the market for another post player to help bridge the gap to Jusuf Nurkic’s eventual return, here is a look at the status of a handful of available big men.

Kenneth Faried | PF/C | Age: 29

Faried carved out a role with the Rockets after reaching a buyout agreement with Nets in January. Lacking an outside shot and the height to consistently protect the rim, Faried continues to earn minutes through high-level rebounding. He appeared in 25 regular season games after signing with the Rockets (13 starts). He averaged 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds during that stretch.

The Rockets recently signed Tyson Chandler to provide depth in the frontcourt, which could make Faried’s return to Houston unlikely. If he the Blazers express interest, Faried would provide much-needed rebounding off the bench.

Pau Gasol | C | Age: 39

Gasol, a six-time NBA All-Star, is firmly in the twilight of his professional career. He split time between the Spurs and Bucks last season before suffering a stress fracture in his left foot. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Gasol could return to basketball-related activities in August.

In Gasol’s 2017-18 campaign, he recorded 10.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has shown a pattern of circling back to players that he has pursued in the past. During the summer of 2016, the Blazers were in the running to land Gasol before he decided to sign with the Spurs.

Salah Mejri | C | Age: 33

The Tunisian big fella could be the odd man out in Dallas after the Mavericks signed Boban Marjanovic earlier this summer. Mejri is a low-usage rim protector that could fill a role as a backup center in Portland. His lumbering style is a natural fit inside the Blazers’ drop-coverage defense. According to reports out of Dallas, Mejri has focused on extending his shooting range by shooting at least 500 three-pointers a day. If the Blazers are curious, Terry Stotts’ relationship with Rick Carlisle could produce valuable information.

Joakim Noah | C | Age: 34

Before resurrecting his career as an effective reserve center in Memphis, Noah appeared to be on his way out of the NBA. Despite a strong finish to the 2018-19 season, Noah has yet to sign with a team. The former Bulls star is a competent passer out of the post and has valuable postseason experience.

According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL are aggressively pursuing Noah.

Other Options

  • Greg Monroe: Like Gasol, the Blazers have pursued Monroe in the past. The former Georgetown standout split time between three Eastern Conference contenders last season (Raptors, Celtics, 76ers).
  • Eric Moreland: The former Oregon State big man landed with the Raptors to finish out last season. In the 2017-18 season, Moreland appeared in 67 regular season games for the Pistons.