Jusuf Nurkic has quietly been one of the more productive centers in the NBA over the past few seasons. Although injuries have restricted his overall output, he has displayed signs of stardom when on the court. He averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds last season despite playing in just 56 games. The Trail Blazers star big man is set to hit free agency this offseason. There is expected to be plenty of interest in Nurkic, who will be only 28 years old prior to the 2022-2023 season.
Despite recent reports of a reunion between Portland and Nurkic, he could still opt to leave the Blazers. So let's go ahead and take a look at the 3 best 2022 free agent destinations for Jusuf Nurkic.
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3 best destinations for Jusuf Nurkic in 2022 NBA Free Agency
Jusuf Nurkic may have interest in joining and up-and-coming Hornets team. Between LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, Charlotte features a rather exciting backcourt.
The Hornets are expected to be all in on Miles Bridges, so we will see if the Hornets can make a Nurkic deal work from a financial standpoint. But adding a veteran leader such as Nurkic to replace underwhelming big man Mason Plumlee seems like a no-brainer for the Hornets. Charlotte could trade Plumlee to free up salary as well. Gordon Hayward is another salary relief trade candidate.
Nurkic may like the idea of taking on a leadership role in Charlotte for a young Hornets team. Although he will be just 28 this year, that is rather old compared to players like LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges.
This fit seems unlikely right now. But it's something both Nurkic and the Hornets should consider.
2. Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers are the favorites to land Jusuf Nurkic in 2022 NBA Free Agency. He is believed to return to Portland and team up with Damian Lillard once again.
However, the Trail Blazers need to add pieces around Nurkic and Lillard. They are rumored to be interested in re-signing Anfernee Simons as well. And Lillard posted an image of him and Kevin Durant together in Portland. Although KD seems destined to stay in Brooklyn with the Nets, Lillard's post caught the attention of the NBA world.
Nonetheless, Nurkic will surely be more willing to re-sign with the Blazers if they continue adding talent around their core. For now, they would be a fringe contender with Lillard, Nurkic, and Simons in the mix. But Portland could upgrade their postseason chances with depth moves around them.
But one team stands out as an even better fit for Jusuf Nurkic.
Deandre Ayton has been linked to the Pistons all offseason long. Those rumors recently died down after Detroit drafted big man Jalen Duren. But the Pistons may be willing to add an NBA star big man while Duren adjusts to the league.
The idea of Nurkic in Detroit makes sense. He would come at a cheaper cost than Ayton, but could be almost just as effective if he stays healthy. And he would have an opportunity for leadership in similar fashion to the aforementioned Hornets role.
The Pistons are developing an impressive core. Adding Nurkic would allow him and Cade Cunningham to build something together along with Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. Detroit has also been linked to Miles Bridges. Adding both Bridges and Nurkic could make them a contender next season.
Jusuf Nurkic hasn't been linked to Detroit heading into 2022 NBA Free Agency. But the Pistons would be smart to inquire about the big man before committing to Duren or Ayton as the team's starting center.