NBA Rumors: Jusuf Nurkic Turned Down 4-Year Blazers Contract Extension Last Fall

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2018

Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (27) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic reportedly turned down a four-year contract extension during the fall. 

ESPN's Zach Lowe categorized Portland's offer as "rich" and theorized that the market for Nurkic in restricted free agency this offseason may not be strong.

Lowe wrote that Nurkic could sign his $4.75 million qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next offseason, but he also threw out the idea of Portland offering him an extension worth $11 million or $12 million per season since no other team may be willing to offer more than the mid-level exception.

The 23-year-old native of Bosnia-Herzegovina is among the most talented, young centers in the NBA.

In what was his first full season with the Blazers, Nurkic averaged 14.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in 2017-18.

Prior to that, Nurkic spent parts of three seasons with the Denver Nuggets before getting traded to Portland in order to make room for more playing time for Nikola Jokic.

While Portland's greatest strength is its backcourt with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Nurkic is a solid No. 3 offensive option.

The Blazers' current construction isn't enough to truly challenge the top dogs in the Western Conference, but they did finish third during the 2017-18 regular season, and losing Nurkic would represent a significant step back unless they are able to sign another star.

Unless Portland can find a way to clear the all or part of the cap space being taken up by Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard (nearly $40 million combined), it is in a position where it will be difficult to make significant improvements.

Because of that, keeping Nurkic to complement Lillard and McCollum is the Blazers' best chance at success in 2018-19, even if vying for a championship is unrealistic.

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