Jusuf Nurkic Agrees to 4-Year, $70M Contract to Return to Trail Blazers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2022

Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic passes the ball during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Jusuf Nurkic is staying put.

The big man has been with the Portland Trail Blazers since they acquired him via trade from the Denver Nuggets during the 2016-17 season, and he has agreed to re-sign with the team on a four-year, $70 million deal.

Nurkic's agent, Rich Paul, told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski about the deal Friday.

Portland chose to hold on to Nurkic throughout the 2021-22 season even though it missed the playoffs and he was set for free agency. There were rumblings of a potential move in December when Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported some team executives saw the Trail Blazers as a possible landing spot for Domantas Sabonis, but nothing ever materialized.

He now remains with the club where he established himself as a consistent double-double threat.

While Nurkic was largely a role player in Denver, he averaged a double-double of 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in 2018-19 and then did so again in 2019-20 when he posted 17.6 points and 10.3 boards a night even though he played just eight games that season.

Durability is something of a concern for the 27-year-old, who also appeared in just 37 games in 2020-21 and 56 games this past season.

Still, he can control the glass, score on the low blocks and provide rim protection when healthy. He averaged 15.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game in 2021-22.

That production and his age surely made him an enticing target for other teams looking to bolster their frontcourt, but Portland chose to keep him as it attempts to turn things around after going just 27-55 this past season.

Heading into their first full season under general manager Joe Cronin, the Blazers are doing their best to build a playoff-caliber team around Damian Lillard. Re-signing Nurkic comes one week after Wojnarowski reported they agreed to acquire Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons.

Portland also has an eye on the future after using the No. 7 pick in the 2022 NBA draft to select Shaedon Sharpe.

Nurkic is missing sustained playoff success on his resume since he was sidelined when the Trail Blazers advanced to the 2019 Western Conference Finals. That was the only time the team advanced past the first round during his tenure.

Yet both sides will look to change that in 2022-23.