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Should Jusuf Nurkic Be Available at the NBA Trade Deadline?

It’s loose, but the rumblings are beginning.

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers are starting to create buzz as the 2023 NBA trade deadline nears. As the quicksand of their schedule continues to hold the Blazers in place, they’ve been doing what is commonly advised under arduous circumstances — staying calm.

Such calmness has not led to fiery players-only meetings, locker room brouhahas or throwing teammates under the bus to the media. Rather, sharing and accepting accountability and leaning on their leader Damian Lillard for support have directly coincided with two consecutive wins.

But, the calm usually precedes the storm, and Dan Favale of Bleacher Report could see trades washing away the fabric of the current roster, save Lillard and Anfernee Simons:

This runs contrary to what sources told Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes about the Blazers. They fancy themselves buyers who have identified “shooting, size and depth” as “areas of need.”

Is spotlighting basically everything about basketball as your primary “areas of need” unintentionally comedic? Absolutely. And that’s why the Blazers feel like a stealth seller.

Lakers-jersey photoshop specialists can chill. Damian Lillard isn’t going anywhere. But Portland has a pair of desirable soon-to-be free agents in Josh Hart (early termination option) and Jerami Grant; could try to undo their Gary Payton II signing; and should kick the tires of Jusuf Nurkic’s market so long as they remain firmly entrenched in the bottom of the Western Conference’s middle.

Haynes has been vocal about the value of Hart on the open market as of late. The 6-foot-4 glass-eating forward has brought a slew of intangibles to the table this season, but has marred his culture-elevating play with reluctance to shoot from beyond the arc and a lack of length beyond his control.

Nurkic’s $16.6 million contract, coupled with his deficiencies unfortunately outweighing the several strong points of his game may open the door for a uniform change soon come.

Favale may need a Bally Sports Plus subscription to understand just how valuable Grant and Payton II have been to the team though. Grant has unequivocally been the second best player for Portland after Lillard, with striking efficiency rates from the field and from the three-point line coupled with length and defensive prowess. Payton II has done nothing but relieve the starting backcourt with tenacious defense, averaging 1.4 steals in only 16 minutes of play.

Management will be up to their neck with pressure to make a move before the February 9th deadline that appeases the ever-so-loyal Lillard and activates a paradigm shift on the win-loss column. We’ll continue to update you on all news related to Rip City’s movements as it transpires.