As the NBA trade deadline is merely 10 days away, there is plenty of news and rumors going around the league with regards to which teams might make deals. As has been the case since the start of the season, the main goal for many teams not based in Cleveland or Oakland (Golden State) is to improve their rosters to having some chance at competing with those teams. Adding big men is something that a lot of teams feel could help their chances. One Portland Trail Blazers center is apparently on the trading block as of Monday morning.
As reported by ESPN, Portland’s 6-foot-11 center Festus Ezeli is a player who is being discussed for a possible relocation. The report states that Portland is reaching out to teams below the salary floor for a potential deal. Those teams would need to take on Ezeli’s contract with extra compensation. Among them are the Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn Nets, and Philadelphia 76ers, who each fit the requirements of being below the salary floor. Two of those teams are still possibly playoff contenders, while the Nets are pretty much out of the equation unless they land a superstar.
Ezeli, who spent his first three seasons with the Golden State Warriors, is already an NBA champion. He was a part of the team’s championship win back in the 2014-15 season. His numbers have also slightly improved in each of his three seasons since being drafted No. 30 by Golden State in 2012. Portland signed him to a two-year deal last offseason. As of the current campaign, he’s yet to play due to injury and surgery recovery, so his career averages of seven points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks will hold up.
It’s noted that Ezeli will probably miss this entire NBA season, making him ineffective for the Blazers or any of the aforementioned teams that might trade for him. The NBA big man had knee surgery after helping the Warriors in the postseason during his first three seasons there. However, the knee hasn’t progressed to where he can get on the court just yet. So the main reason a team would want to take on Ezeli would be due to the low cost. His contract only has $1 million guaranteed of a total $7.4 million for the season. Whichever team picks up Ezeli could also lose him as he’ll return to free agency next season.
Brooklyn is currently a league-worst 9-45, while Philadelphia is 20-34. Neither team is in the playoff hunt right now, although a hot streak by the Sixers could change that. As of this report, the Nuggets are 24-30, which is good for No. 8 in the Western Conference. A deal might benefit them if they can gain Ezeli and another player from Portland who is able to help them compete. Otherwise, he’ll watch from the bench as this team attempts to hold onto the No. 8 spot. However, the Trail Blazers (23-31) are the team just below Denver and are probably looking for ways to improve their own chances at making the playoffs.
The NBA trade deadline will arrive on February 23, which gives Portland and the speculated three teams just a bit over a week to make some sort of deal happen. However, there are other big men who are on the market that teams may be considering ahead of Ezeli, including Orlando Magic star Serge Ibaka, as well as Sixers players Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Still, the allure of picking up a low-priced contract and a potential roster addition is something for Philly, Denver, and Brooklyn to ponder.
NBA fans, which of the three teams makes the most sense for taking on Ezeli right now if Portland can make the deal?
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]