Cody Zeller, Trail Blazers Agree to 1-Year Contract in 2021 NBA Free Agency

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2021

Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller looks to pass against the Houston Rockets in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Charlotte won 119-94. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Nell Redmond/Associated Press

The Portland Trail Blazers and center Cody Zeller came to an agreement Monday on a one-year contract, his agent, Sam Goldfeder, told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Zeller has spent his entire eight-year NBA career with the Charlotte Hornets, who selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft when the franchise was known as the Bobcats.

Although the 28-year-old Indiana native has been a solid post player for nearly a decade, averaging 8.7 points and 6.0 rebounds across 467 regular-season games, he hasn't lived up to the expectations associated with being a top-five selection.

Zeller played just 20.9 minutes per game during the 2020-21 season, the third-lowest total of his career, but remained an efficient offensive contributor by averaging 9.4 points on 55.9 percent shooting.

The former Indiana University standout struggled defensively, however, which dropped him to 27th among qualified centers in ESPN's real plus-minus.

"My high school coach used to say, 'If you want to play more, play better,'" Zeller told reporters in March when asked about his limited role.

His previous four-year, $56 million contract concluded at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

Zeller's departure from Charlotte doesn't come as a surprise given his decrease in minutes amid a youth movement in the team's frontcourt. He'll look to earn a more consistent role following his arrival to the Trail Blazers in free agency.

He should slot in as a bench player during his first year in Portland.