NBA Rumor: Festus Ezeli Free Agency

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The Trail Blazers’ foray into the free agent market isn’t over: Golden State big man Festus Ezeli flew to Portland on Wednesday to meet with the Blazers. “They have something good brewing here,’’ Ezeli told CSN at the Portland International Airport. Wearing a red-and-black flannel shirt, Ezeli said he had a meeting with the Blazers on Wednesday night. He was unsure how long he would be in Portland. “I bought a one-way ticket,’’ Ezeli said “We are going to figure it out.’’

But despite his development, Ezeli was the 291st-highest-paid player in the league last season. He has made a total of about $3.2 million in four seasons, a fraction of what he’ll make during a free-agency period that is expected to land him more than $12 million per season. “The money is not why I do this,” Ezeli said. “It’s great, because I get to take care of my family. But, I do this because I enjoy it. I love this game. If I didn’t love this game anymore, I wouldn’t play. “I can always find something else to do, and I could always be really good at something else. But, I really enjoy it and the people around me. Being here in the Bay Area with the Golden State Warriors has made me love this game even more. I never knew I could love the game as much as I do.”

Despite his development, Ezeli was the 291st highest-paid player in the league last season. He’s made a total of about $3.2 million in four seasons, a fraction of what he’ll make during a free-agency period that is expected to land him more than $12 million per season. “The money is not why I do this,” Ezeli said. “It’s great, because I get to take care of my family. But, I do this, because I enjoy it. I love this game. If I didn’t love this game anymore, I wouldn’t play.”

Ezeli, 26, wasn’t the same player after left knee surgery in February, but despite missing about two months late in the season, he still finished the season with career highs in nearly every category. He averaged seven points on 54.8 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots. “I really have not,” Ezeli said when asked whether he had considered Sunday’s game might have been his last in a Warriors uniform. “There are a lot of emotions going through my mind right now. That one is really in the back of my mind. It’s not really an issue. I’m just thinking about the fact that we lost, and it’s a really s— feeling.”

On the ability to retain both Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli: Lacob: “Our goal is to win. That’s the absolute No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 goals — to win. We’re obviously doing that now. We have a really good core. Both those guys are a part of the core. Hopefully we’ll have this team for a number of years to come. If it costs a lot of money it’s going to cost a lot of money. It probably will. A lot of our players have come up in free agency the last year or two and if they continue to perform we’re going to continue to pay them. We’re 34-2, we’re trying to get a second championship here. There’s a lot of room for improvement of course, but there’s a lot of power to continuity.

Warriors center Ezeli will not sign a contract extension with the team by Monday’s 9 p.m. deadline. Ezeli, 26, will instead become a restricted free agent next summer on the advice of his agent, but the big man still hopes to re-sign with the Warriors. “Obviously he didn’t come up to an agreement with the team, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I want to be here for the rest of my career, and I love these guys,” Ezeli said. “I love the team. We discussed it a little bit with my family, and he kind of told us what he thought was best moving forward, and we went with that.”
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April 17, 2021 | 1:45 am EDT Update

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