Norman Powell returns to the Portland Trail Blazers tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves after an eight game absence
The Portland Trail Blazers have been without Norman Powell since January 7 as he worked his way through the NBA COVID health and safety protocols, but he’ll return tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Portland is 6-2 without Powell, including a 4-2 swing that tripled the Blazers’ road win total for the season. Anfernee Simons has been particularly brilliant in his absence, averaging 23.6 points and 7.3 assists per game in that stretch.
Powell came to Portland just before the deadline last year in exchange for Gary Trent, Jr. and Rodney Hood and has started all 61 games for which he has been healthy. He is averaging 17.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game for the Blazers, but has not delivered on his defensive promise this season.
Powell’s minus-137 net the worst on the Blazers and places him 557th out of 590 rostered NBA players. And while he has stepped forward offensively in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum‘s absences, Powell is on a fairly tradeable contract and could be part of the expected upcoming roster shuffle.
Simons’ emergence and the Blazers’ lack of available cap space to pay the soon-to-be restricted free agent could combine to push Powell and/or CJ McCollum out of Portland. And meanwhile, the injury battles continue.
Lillard is still out at least a month after abdominal surgery, Cody Zeller will miss his seventh straight game with a patellar fracture, and Larry Nance is out for the 10th game in a row with a bone bruise on his right knee.
Dennis Smith, Jr., Nassir Little, and Robert Covington are all listed as probable for tonight’s game against the Timberwolves, who have won seven of their last 10 to climb to seventh in the Western Conference at 23-23. The Blazers sit in 10th, three games behind at 20-26.