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Thunder Cuts Usman Garuba; Could Blazers Sign?

The Portland Trail Blazers could use a big man and Usman Garuba may be a fit.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Northwest division rival Oklahoma City Thunder is making a change to its roster this morning, according to sources.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has waived forward Usman Garuba, team says.

Garuba, 21, was the No. 23 overall pick by the Houston Rockets in the 2021 NBA Draft, making him one of four first-round selections drafted to the team. With so many players developing all at once and injuries making a bad situation worse, Garuba played in just 24 games in his rookie season.

This past year, Garuba was healthier, playing in 75 games, but averaging just three points per game.

With the Rockets looking to improve in free agency, Garuba’s talents were no longer needed and he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks. From there, he was re-routed to the Thunder, who waived him today given the team’s roster crunch.

A team that doesn’t have that issue is the Portland Trail Blazers, who currently have 16 roster spots. The Blazers can hold up to 20 during training camp, so why not give one of those spots to Garuba?

Portland held interest in signing Edy Tavares, a 7’3” center who currently plays with Real Madrid, but the team has been unable to free him from his contract situation. While Garuba may not be as tall (only 6’8”) he can play the four or five and is skilled on the defensive side of the floor.

For a team officially entering a rebuild, adding a 21-year-old prospect with nearly 100 games of NBA experience could be worthwhile for the Blazers.