Blazers rumors: Jusuf Nurkic to enter restricted free agency

Jusuf Nurkic is set to enter restricted free agency after failing to sign an extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Bad news, Blazers fans. According to Shams Charania of The Vertical, Jusuf Nurkic plans on becoming a restricted free agent at the end of the year. Portland reportedly did not offer a contract extension to the Bosnian big man.

Midway through last season, the Portland Trail Blazers acquired Nurkic and a first-round pick from the Denver Nuggets.

In short: he saved their season.

Nurk averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in his new, expanded role. He helped lead the team to a 14-6 record before fracturing his right fibula.

He’s now indispensable, providing a defensive presence down low.

Because of this, the Blazers should be willing to pay top dollar to keep him on the roster.

As a premiere center entering free agency, teams with cap space may splash the cash to add Nurkic.

Based on Portland’s recent spending spree (Evan Turner – four years, $70 million; Allen Crabbe – four years, $75 million; and Meyers Leonard – four years, $41 million), management isn’t scared to exceed the salary cap.

Additionally, Jusuf Nurkic has expressed a desire to stay in Portland. On media day, he responded to a question regarding contract extensions with,

“I mean, everybody knows I want to be here. … And I feel like [this is] the best place for me.”

He stayed in Portland during the summer to connect with fans and better understand the city.

The 2014 draft class must sign an extension before Monday night or will enter free agency.

With the money being thrown around the NBA, Nurkic is in line for at least $25 million a year. The Blazers are already over the salary cap, and don’t free up nearly that much space after this season.