The Portland Trail Blazers have a decision looming in the next few weeks regarding the future of backup center Drew Eubanks.
However, if they were to look for a replacement, they wouldn’t find many on the market better than the status quo in Eubanks.
John Hollinger of The Athletic listed Eubanks as the ninth-best center in free agency this summer.
He’s a bit undersized and doesn’t shoot 3s, but Eubanks plays hard enough to make an impact as a backup five and should finally get paid for it after five seasons on minimum contracts. Eubanks is a credible rim runner, but the real key for him has been his progression as a rim protector: Eubanks swatted 5.7 percent of opponent shots last season, ranking seventh in the entire league. Granted, Portland’s defense provided a lot of opportunities for rim protection, but he still had an impressive defensive season.
Eubanks can re-sign in Portland via early Bird rights: the Blazers have a tax crunch but also a glaring need for size and ought to bring him back. If not, Eubanks should have a market around the taxpayer midlevel exception of about $5 million.
Those ranked ahead of Eubanks are Kristaps Porzingis, Jakob Poeltl, Christian Wood, Brook Lopez, Dwight Powell, Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba and former Blazer Mason Plumlee.
Eubanks averaged 6.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this past season for the Blazers, numbers that don’t jump off the page. However, Portland may not have better options than Eubanks, and it won’t cost the Blazers too much to retain him.
Regardless of whether the Blazers choose to make a push and become one of the contenders in the Western Conference or keep together a lot of the core they currently have, Eubanks makes sense as a fit in Portland.