On the day before NBA Free Agency, 2023 opens, the Portland Trail Blazers were forced to make choices about their incumbent potential free agents, players with non-guaranteed contracts next season or who were due qualifying offers to stay with the team.
Yesterday Portland extended a qualifying offer to guard Matisse Thybulle but opted not to do the same for forward Cam Reddish.
Today the Blazers split decisions between three players. They extended qualifying offers to Ibou Badji and John Butler Jr., making both restricted free agents when the new year opens at 6:00 PM, Eastern on Friday. Portland now has the right to match any contract offered to either player, retaining them.
From the press release:
Badji originally signed a two-way contract with the Trail Blazers on November 18, 2022. Butler appeared in 19 games (1 start) during his rookie campaign for Portland and averaged 2.4 points (32.1% FG, 75.0% FT), 0.9 rebounds and 11.6 minutes per game as a two-way player.
The offer for each player was $1.8 million. Qualifying offers are pre-set, based on a player’s prior salary and/or draft position.
The Blazers did not pick up the option year of forward Kevin Knox II. Knox will become an unrestricted free agent. The cost of retaining him for the 2023-24 season would have been $3 million.
Knox appeared in 21 games for Portland last season, starting 4. He averaged 8.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game, shooting 44.4% from the field and 31.4% from the three-point arc.
Portland acquired Knox at the 2023 Trading Deadline in the deal that sent Gary Payton II to the Golden State Warriors.
The Blazers will be parsing out salary commitments carefully this summer due to the narrow gap between their current obligations and the luxury tax threshold.