Jusuf Nurkic has played the best basketball of his NBA career since joining the Portland Trail Blazers, and he doesn’t want to leave.
In an interview with Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, Nurkic cited the surroundings both individually and professionally.
“Portland gave me the situation I always wanted: the fans, the city, the teammates and two guards who can really hoop. It sounds perfect to me. I don’t want this to end. I want to be here.”
You certainly can’t blame Nurkic for enjoying seeing Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in the backcourt. The guards have helped Nurkic display his top-end potential.
In 37 games with the Blazers, he’s posted 14.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 28.5 minutes per appearance. As a member of the Denver Nuggets, he managed 7.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists with an average of just 17.7 minutes.
Portland would be wise to re-sign the impending restricted free agent, though it’ll lock in the team’s roster without other movement. Lillard and McCollum are already earning $25-plus million per season, and Evan Turner has $35 million remaining over two years after 2017-18, per Basketball Insiders.
Additionally, Mo Harkless and Meyers Leonard are both making eight figures, and Al-Farouq Aminu isn’t far behind at $7 million next season. The Blazers have showed a willingness to spend, but a team can only afford so many pricey players.
Portland is a team to monitor closely as a possibility to trade an expensive veteran along with a draft pick in order to clear cap space.
However, considering the alternative — losing Nurkic — it would be worth the price.