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Blazers GM Neil Olshey says Jusuf Nurkic is ‘on a great trajectory in terms of returning to play’

Neil Olshey, Jusuf Nurkic, Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey says big man Jusuf Nurkic is “on a great trajectory in terms of returning to play.”

Nurkic underwent season-ending surgery to repair compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula. Olshey says guys on the Blazers “can’t believe where he is relative to what they saw only four weeks ago.”

“So far, he’s on a great trajectory in terms of returning to play … but we are not going to sacrifice anything in his recovery and (physical therapy) just to get him on the court faster,” Olshey told Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“He’s making great progress. Guys can’t believe where he is relative to what they saw only four weeks ago. He is a core piece to this roster, a foundational piece going forward, and we are going to drive him. But also knowing we are going to do what’s best for Nurk on a long-term basis in terms of his recovery and his timeline.”

During the regular season, Nurkic averaged 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 blocks while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 77.3 percent from the free-throw line. The Blazers’ rim protector and low-post scorer recorded 36 double-doubles and one triple-double. The Blazers were 45-27 when Nurkic was in the lineup.

Some believe the Blazers could have defeated the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals had Nurkic played. The Warriors don’t have anyone on the roster who can guard Nurkic in the post. It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to see Jusuf play in the postseason.