As the NBA season resumes in Orlando this month, the Portland Trail Blazers are looking forward to an even more significant return. Center Jusuf Nurkic is practicing on the court and is expected to return to action after missing a year and a half with a broken leg. This happy event leaves Portland in a conundrum, as Hassan Whiteside has filled the starting center position all season, averaging 16.3 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 3.1 blocked shots in 31.3 minutes per game.
This morning Casey Holdahl of the Trail Blazers tweeted that, in the center traffic jam, Nurkic may be the first to move.
Jusuf Nurkić says he expects to play some minutes at power forward, presumably alongside Hassan Whiteside at center.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) July 3, 2020
Earlier this week Bleacher Report’s Sean Highkin quoted Head Coach Terry Stotts saying that Portland’s frontcourt permutations were still up in the air.
Stotts says "in all likelihood" Melo and Nurk will start. Hasn't decided whether Collins will start at 4. Also hasn't ruled out starting Nurk and Whiteside together. "Why not? It'll give you guys something to write about."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 1, 2020
Nurkic does have some experience sharing the frontcourt. In 2016-17 he played alongside Nikola Jokic for limited stretches. The failure of that experiment is believed to be one of the main reasons that the Nuggets were willing to trade Nurkic to the Blazers that season.