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Blazers Rumors: Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons 'Widely Expected' to Return in FA

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 27, 2022

Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Their reported acquisition of Jerami Grant showed the Portland Trail Blazers aren't hitting the reset button, and that could have implications for two of their biggest free agents, Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons.

NBA insider Marc Stein reported Nurkic and Simons "are widely expected by rival teams to land new deals with the Trail Blazers after free agency opens."

Simons is coming off a career year. The 6'3" guard averaged 17.3 points and 3.9 assists and shot 40.5 percent from the field. A knee injury took him out for the remainder of the season in March and helped limit him to 57 appearances.

Simons is both eligible to be a restricted free agent and looked like a long-term replacement for CJ McCollum. Unless another team is prepared to table a contract far exceeding his on-court value to date, it's difficult to see how Portland could let him go.

Nurkic isn't quite so indispensable. The veteran center averaged 15.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and 0.6 blocks while shooting 53.5 percent from the field.

Especially with Deandre Ayton potentially on the move, the Blazers have some room to upgrade at center.

Still, Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer echoed Stein's reporting on June 22 when he wrote the Blazers "are widely expected to retain" Nurkic.

Adding Grant will represent a nice start for general manager Joe Cronin toward raising the franchise's playoff ceiling. But if Simons and Nurkic both return, it doesn't appear Cronin is willing yet to significantly reshuffle the supporting cast around Damian Lillard this summer.

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