Trail Blazers could trade big man Jusuf Nurkic this offseason

The Trail Blazers have to reshape the roster around Damian Lillard, and Jusuf Nurkic seems to already have one foot out the door

Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers
NBA Analysis Network

After the first-round playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Portland Trail Blazers fired head coach Terry Stotts. Speculation on the future of star guard Damian Lillard has been natural, as the pieces around him aren’t championship-caliber. Assuming an offseason plan to reshape the roster around Lillard, and not trade him, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic stand out as players who could be dealt.

After the season-ending loss to the Nuggets, Nurkic was not optimistic about his future with the Trail Blazers.

I got a non-guaranteed contract,” Nurkic said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be back. I’m going to leave that to Rich Paul, my agent. We’ll see what’s going to happen. As far as right now, I’m just going to get away from basketball and see what my next step should be. We’ll see what’s going to happen. I’m not sure if I’m coming back or what’s team direction is. We’ll look at that later.”

According to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, Nurkic has not been happy with his role in Portland.

Jusuf Nurkic and the Trail Blazers may be headed for a parting of ways

On the heels of that, not coincidentally, Nurkic has been tabbed as a name to watch in trade talks this offseason.

Nurkic missed time this season with a wrist injury. In 37 regular season games he averaged 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. A broken leg late in the 2018-19 season cost him all but eight games during the truncated and delayed 2019-20 campaign.

As he insinuated and is out there to know, $4 million of Nurkic’s $12 million salary for next season is guaranteed right now. The rest becomes guaranteed on Aug. 3. Jason Quick of The Athletic has reported the Trail Blazers plan to guarantee that money. But that could just be a pre-cursor to a trade. Nurkic will be on an expiring contract regardless. There is no trade kicker, and a new team would guarantee the balance of his salary upon acquiring him. anyway.

Ideally, Nurkic would not be the third-best player on your team as he has been for Portland (when healthy). If he’s not happy with his role, the Trail Blazers should be willing to oblige and trade him without hesitation.