Portland Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic is expected to become a free agent at the end of the upcoming NBA season, according to reports.
Nurkic, 23, is one of the top centers in the league and would become a key figure in free agency next summer. He has reportedly lost 34 pounds during the offseason and has become significantly quicker on his feet as well.
Here is how SB Nation’s Eric Griffith explained why his health will be so critical to his wealth (via Blazer’s Edge):
“If Nurkic plays well next season without an extension he will almost certainly get a maximum contract offer from the Blazers or from some other team. But he does take the risk of playing an entire season with no long-term financial stability. Another injury this season, an off-court mishap, or a down season would have a significant negative effect on his value.”
David Aldridge of NBA.com predicts Nurkic could earn a contract worth around $20 million per season, similar to what Brook Lopez signed with the Nets in 2015.
While it’s true the Trail Blazers can match any deals offered to Nurkic if and when he was to become a restricted free agent, it may prove too costly for Portland to retain his services with expensive contracts already owed to top players like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
The Blazers have more than $100 million in guaranteed contracts until the 2020 offseason. Any more money would make it nearly impossible for the roster to change or improve moving forward.