7:47pm: Ezeli stresses that he hasn’t made a decision yet on surgery, tweets Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW. “I don’t know yet,” he said. “We are still gathering information… talking to a lot of people.”
Ezeli is considered “likely” to opt for season-ending surgery on his left knee. The decision has not been finalized, but the 27-year-old center hasn’t been able to find a solution for his troublesome knee, which has prevented him from even practicing since mid-October.
Portland was counting on Ezeli to stabilize its defense when it gave him a two-year deal worth more than $15MM over the summer. Ezeli averaged more than a block per game for the Warriors last season in just 16.7 minutes of playing time. Without him protecting the rim, the Blazers have allowed 112.2 points per night, which ranks 28th in the league.
The team could be eligible to file for a Disabled Player Exception if Ezeli is ruled out for the season, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. That would give them $3.7MM to sign another player. Portland would have until January 15th to apply to the league for the DPE and would be limited to signing, trading for or making a waiver claim on a player with no more than a year left on his contract (Twitter link). However, Marks notes that the Blazers are only $27K out of tax territory and they would need to open a roster spot to use the DPE (Twitter link).
Ezeli has a $7.733MM salary for 2017/18, but only $1MM of that is guaranteed through June 30. If he doesn’t respond well to the surgery, Portland may seek another option at center for next season.