Following the long-awaited Damian Lillard trade request, the Portland Trail Blazers are finally entering their rebuild. That means big man Jusuf Nurkic might also be on the move before the season starts, according to HoopsHype's Michael Scotto. More specifically, Nurkic could be packaged in a potential Lillard trade to a contender.
The Blazers owe Nurkic $54 million and change over the next three seasons. With Lillard out the door, the Blazers just aren't likely to write that check, but someone else will. Nurkic is still only 28, and he averaged 13, 9 and 3 on 52% shooting last year. He's also not a bad shooter for a big man and can knock down the three at low volume.
Portland walks into an uncertain future after 11 years of the Damian Lillard era. The Blazers will build around No. 3 pick Scoot Henderson and last year's No. 7 pick Shaedon Sharpe.
They also just gave Jerami Grant a 5-year deal worth $160 million. Grant is 29, so he doesn't exactly fit the Henderson/Sharpe/Anfernee Simons timeline. For now, Portland will rock with that contract, though they might eventually look to trade Grant down the line.
In any case, the Blazers have a strong start to the rebuild. A trade package of Lillard and Nurkic would also return a significant haul of picks and pieces to Portland.
Nurkic has been with the Blazers since 2017. At the peak of his statistical production in 2019, the Bosnian big man averaged close to 18 points per game and over 10 rebounds.
His role has slightly decreased over the past couple of seasons, but that's not for lack of ability. Since 2019, Nurkic has struggled with injuries. He's played only 145 games over the past three years.
Consequentially, the veteran center might not draw the same interest of have the same perceived value anymore. Still, Nurkic can definitely contribute to a championship contender.