JULY 6: The Trail Blazers put out a press release officially announcing Nurkic’s new contract. The announcement included a statement from GM Joe Cronin, who said it was “incredibly important” to bring back the veteran center as a key piece of the team’s core.
“Nurk’s physicality, rebounding prowess and defensive acumen make him an integral part of what we do on both sides of the ball,” Cronin said.
The deal shows that Nurkic is still viewed as part of the future in Portland. There had been speculation around the trade deadline that he might be moved as part of a rebuild, but the Blazers have been heading in the other direction, making roster moves aimed at a quick return to contention.
Nurkic, 27, averaged 15.0 points and 11.1 rebounds last season, but he was sidelined by plantar fasciitis in mid-February. With Portland well out of the playoff race, the team opted to not have Nurkic try to return for the end of the season.
Nurkic started his NBA career with the Nuggets, but was traded to the Blazers in 2017 after Nikola Jokic emerged as a star in Denver. He overcame a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula in 2019 and was fully healthy heading into last season.
Re-signing Nurkic ends any interest that Portland may have had in the Suns’ Deandre Ayton. The Blazers had been mentioned as a possible destination for the free agent center.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report first reported earlier in the week that a four-year deal in the range of $17MM per year for Nurkic and the Blazers was a likely outcome. It’s a pay raise for the big man, whose last contract was worth $48MM over four years.