The Trail Blazers aren't going to re-sign Nolan Smith, but sources close to the combo guard tell Joe Freeman of The Oregonian that the Bulls, Hawks and Thunder lead a pack of teams that are likely have interest this summer. The Blazers drafted Smith with the 21st overall pick in the 2011 draft, but after his rookie season, they declined the third-year option on his rookie-scale contract, making him an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks is Smith's godfather, Freeman points out, and Brooks has expressed confidence in Smith's ability to make it as an NBA player, despite the former Duke standout's inability to consistently become a part of Portland's rotation. Still, Oklahoma City seems well-stocked with backup guards, as they have Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb on guaranteed contracts for next season, along with DeAndre Liggins on a non-guaranteed deal. The Thunder will need to either re-sign or replace Kevin Martin, but Smith probably isn't someone they'd want to fill Martin's sixth-man role.
The Bulls and Hawks will probably have more room for Smith, who could have trouble commanding a salary much higher than the minimum. He's averaged just 3.3 points in 9.9 minutes per game for his career, numbers that have dipped to 2.8 PPG and 7.2 MPG this year. A team may be willing to use a portion of its mid-level exception on him, given his potential as a former first-round draft pick and first-team All-American in college, but he can't expect too much of a raise on the $1.366MM he's earning this season.