2. Acquire a passable stop-gap option for depth
This is the middle ground. It’s not flashy, it’s probably boring, no one will get overly excited about it, but it would be an upgrade nonetheless.
Minnesota’s Naz Reid, Philadelphia’s Paul Reed, Memphis’ Xavier Tillman, Orlando’s Mo Wagner, and Denver’s Thomas Bryant are unspectacular players, but players that would fit Portland’s budget and provide depth and competition for Nurkic.
Reid is the best of the bunch, but may also be the most expensive.
There are also veterans who will be less in-demand on the open market, such as Andre Drummond, Robin Lopez, Bismack Biyombo, Damian Jones, and Frank Kaminsky.
The Blazers could also go the trade route, as long as it doesn’t cost a ton, either monetarily or asset-wise. The Dallas Mavericks may want to get off JaVale McGee’s contract (two years and about $11 million with a $6 million player option after that), which would mean Portland wouldn’t have to give up much to get him.
New York’s Mitchell Robinson is just finishing the first year of a four-year, $60 million contract, but as a shot-blocking lob threat, is a better fit than Nurkic.
None of these options will make the Blazers serious contenders, but some would provide added rebounding, depth, competition, and in some cases, would be a better fit for Billups’ schemes.
If nothing else, they’re size – something Portland desperately needs – and could move Nurkic to a more suitable bench role.