Although the Portland Trail Blazers lost Jusuf Nurkic to a broken leg late in the 2018-19 regular season, the team was able to land another capable starting center earlier this month, as they acquired Hassan Whiteside from the Miami Heat in a four-team trade that also involved the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers. However, the Blazers might not be done reloading ahead of the new season, as a new report suggests that they plan to round out their roster with yet another center.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday that cited an unnamed source, The Athletic‘s Jason Quick noted that the Blazers are hoping to add a third center to the team this summer, as they plan to enter training camp with 14 players on their roster. The tweet did not name any players in specific, but Sporting News wrote that there are a few free-agent centers who remain unsigned as of this writing, including Greg Monroe, Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos, and Pau Gasol.
Out of the above-mentioned free agents, Koufos has specifically received some attention from rival teams in recent days. The veteran big man, who had played the last four seasons for the Sacramento Kings, is reportedly being targeted by the Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, and Toronto Raptors, with the Kings also hoping to re-sign him in free agency, per an earlier Twitter post from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Gasol, meanwhile, is the most prominent name among the four players brought up by Sporting News, given his six All-Star Game appearances in 18 NBA seasons. The 39-year-old Spaniard last played for the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks in the 2018-19 season, combining to average a career-low 3.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 12 minutes per game, as shown on his Basketball-Reference player page.
After Hassan Whiteside heard, and read, what Damian Lillard had to say to him, the new Blazers center knew one thing: “This is what I’ve been waiting for.”https://t.co/cmcmXHqpuX
— Jason Quick (@jwquick) July 12, 2019
Regardless of which player Portland signs in their apparent search for a third player to man the center position, Hassan Whiteside is expected to be the Trail Blazers’ opening-day starter as Jusuf Nurkic continues to recover from his injury. Per Sporting News, Whiteside has already hinted at having a good rapport with the Blazers’ superstar point guard, Damian Lillard, and was previously quoted as saying that he’s excited to get a “fresh start” in Portland.
Meanwhile, Nurkic still does not have a specific timetable for his return. However, Sporting News noted that Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in May that the Bosnian big man is “on a great trajectory in terms of returning to play.”