Trail Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic says he wants to stay in Portland: ‘I want to be here, it’s no secret’

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Pelicans sweep Trail Blazers

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When the Trail Blazers traded for Jusuf Nurkic during the 2016-17 season, he made an immediate impact in his new home. He helped lead Portland on a post-All-Star break run into the playoffs. It felt like he was the perfect fit next to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. A big man down low that could give them another scoring option.

With the 2018 season in the books following an embarrassing sweep to the Pelicans, the Blazers have some big decisions ahead this offseason. Nurkic, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, is among those decisions. Should the Blazers sign him before the start of free agency, let another team give him an offer or let him walk entirely? If you ask Nurkic, he has his heart set on staying in Portland.

Nurkic struggled to be that same player this season, but he still flashed signs of future potential. Much like the rest of the Blazers, he was heavily reliant on McCollum and Lillard to get him going. He did show improvements on defense, but Portland was actually a better offensive team when he was off the floor.

The benefits for keeping Nurkic are obvious. The Blazers are already capped out as is and don’t have much room for flexibility. They gave up assets to acquire Nurkic and it wouldn’t make sense to let him walk with only one full season of play form him. If they can get him at a decent price then it wouldn’t hurt to have him around for longer.

However, the Blazers might be in seek of change. Nurkic couldn’t stay on the floor against Pelicans big man Anthony Davis and this is a convenient excuse to move on from him. If Portland decides it wants to go in a different direction, and save the money, then letting Nurkic walk would be a good course of action. As is with most potential restricted free agents, we’ll have to see how this shakes out during free agency.

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