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A couple of months ago, I saw Cheap Jusuf Nurkic Jersey walking down the street a few miles from the Trail Blazers practice facility. More like I saw a slender 7-foot silhouette cast against the evening sky coming up the street in a leather jacket and mask. He looked healthy, with no sign of a limp.

I wondered if this season might be a big one for the big guy.

Nurkic broke his wrist on Thursday night.

He swiped at the ball in the second half of Portland’s loss to Indiana. Soon after, he grimaced, held his wrist. The setback came 22 months after he crumbled to the ground with a broken leg. Save for the fact that Nurkic left with two good legs on Thursday, it was like watching a guy struck by lightning walk into a thunderstorm and get hit a second time.

Nurk deserved better.

We’re in an era where people are fortunate to be alive, healthy and employed. But I was pulling for a guy who had put in the work, done the rehabilitation and fought his way back. I was hoping Nurkic, who has missed a pile of games in his career, would get a chance to shine this season.

Now, the Blazers’ center is just left to teach us another lesson about tough-luck grit.

The Blazers are a shaky defensive team to begin with. But Nurkic wasn’t part of that problem. With Cheap Enes Kanter Jersey on the floor more minutes, Portland isn’t going to be better. In fact, unless there’s a move to be made, we’re probably looking at a season spent watching a bottom-five team in the defensive rankings.

Kanter filled in admirably in a 2019 playoff run. The Blazers adapted. Kanter rose to meet the moment, particularly against Steven Adams in the first-round Oklahoma City series. Portland played good basketball. So maybe the silver lining is that while most teams might be scrambling to figure out how to best utilize Kanter, Portland already sort of knows what to do.

Still, it has to make a move.

Leaning into Kanter alone down the stretch this season won’t get it done.

Injuries are part of the game. That’s why general managers are charged with fostering roster depth and scouring the far corners of the league for untapped talent. Nobody is going to feel sorry for Trail Blazers, Inc. And the franchise shouldn’t feel sorry for itself.

But dang.

Cheap Bill Walton Jersey feet. Cheap Sam Bowie Jersey leg. Cheap Brandon Roy Jersey knees. Also, Cheap Greg Oden Jersey. And don’t forget Cheap Joel Przybilla Jersey patellar tendon. Cheap Damon Stoudamire Jersey too. Cheap CJ McCollum Jersey had a broken foot before we knew he could really play. And then Nurkic’s leg, Cheap Zach Collins Jersey (shoulder) and Cheap Rodney Hood Jersey torn achilles.

Nurk’s wrist?

Just the latest reminder that this franchise has a propensity to drive full-speed toward road bumps.

Eight weeks until Portland’s starting center will be back. No doubt, Nurkic’s loss amounts to more than minutes, rebounds, points and blocks. Cheap Damian Lillard Jersey is the team’s best player. CJ McCollum is next. But Nurkic is the towel-waving spirit animal of this franchise.

How do you replace that? Put Nurk in street clothes and tell him to use his good hand?

The Blazer need to make a move. They’ve needed a roster shake up from the start of this season.

This is an organization that has overcome more than broken bones and snapped tendons over the years. It has withstood a bankruptcy, heartbreak and the death of an owner. It’s why the injury on Thursday night wasn’t greeted with shock and horror as much as shaking heads and questions.

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With the 2021 NBA free-agent class quickly depleting, teams who hoarded cap space will have to pivot off their initial plans
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, and Paul George all extended or re-signed with their current teams which will lock them up for several years and takes them off the market headed into the 2021 NBA offseason.

You can say what you will about the length, value, and reasoning of the contracts, but the deals are done and they’re no longer changing situations.

This came as a shock to several franchises who had purposely been planning their salary sheets so that there was enough space to fit a max free agent, Giannis being the most important out of all of them with his standing in the league.

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So, if you’re the Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, or Dallas Mavericks, three teams each with reported interest in the Greek Freak, what do you do now?

On top of that, teams like the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Cleveland Cavaliers among others will find themselves naturally creating a large amount of cap space. But all this does is add more names to the NBA’s musical chairs game. Now there are fewer chairs to go around.

Here are some avenues the teams can pursue with their new situation:

NBA restricted free agency
While the upcoming unrestricted free agency class took a hit with the extensions, the restricted class definitely didn’t and there are a few names on the list who you can see will benefit greatly from these teams being flush with cash.

Going in descending order from their salary this year, you have: Lonzo Ball, Lauri Markkanen, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Cheap Zach Collins Jersey, Nicolo Melli, and then notable names from later in the draft include John Collins, Jarrett Allen, and Josh Hart.

Now the deal with restricted free agency is that if one of these players finds a contract elsewhere, the original team will have three days to decide whether they want to match the offer, keeping them on the team, or decline and let their young player walk. This tends to end in one of three ways; first, the player realizes there isn’t much of a market for their skills outside of the one situation or the player gets overpaid on an offer elsewhere and they end up overpaid on one of the two teams.

A good example of this in practice is when then-Portland Trail Blazer Cheap Allen Crabbe Jersey signed a four-year, $75 million offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets, a team that had nothing else to do with their cap space and wanted to take a flier on a young prospect. Portland matched the offer, bringing back their wing on what quickly became one of the least-desirable contracts in the league.

(Side note: the Nets eventually traded for Crabbe during the life of that contract. Never give up on your dreams kids).

Crabbe wasn’t worth the $75 million he was given and that makes sense now but at the time it was believable to think he could grow into a better player than he was in a bigger role. You had to squint really hard but yes, it was possible.

What’s to say one of these teams can’t look at Lonzo Ball, John Collins, or Lauri Markkanen and think there’s room for growth?

The only cause for concern is that if you’re going to pay them a large-enough contract for the initial team to decline, you’re making a bet on the player that they’ll grow into (and maybe beyond) it.

ESPN’s and The Hoop Collective’s Brian Windhorst reported that John Collins turned down a $90 million contract from the Atlanta Hawks with the idea that he deserves more.

Lonzo and the New Orleans Pelicans “remain positive” that the two can come to an agreement next offseason according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, but if they’re so positive, how come it wasn’t done before the deadline?

And who knows what Markkanen thinks he’s worth as NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson says:

“[Chicago Bulls and Markkanen] were never close on a deal”.

Sign an NBA player that isn’t an MVP and DPOY
Due to the tampering rules, we don’t know for certain that Miami, Toronto, and Dallas all cleared their cap space to pursue two-time Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo since he’s on a different team. But we can pretty well assume they didn’t clear their space for DeMar DeRozan.

Assuming Kawhi Leonard, who has a player option for the 2021-22 season, stays with the LA Clippers in some capacity and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin pick up their options, the best players available are quickly deteriorating.

The Trail Blazers’ 50-year anniversary season is temporarily on pause as the NBA goes on hiatus to slow the spread of COVID-19. During that break, Blazer’s Edge is counting down the top 100 Blazers: players, executives, and other influencers who made the franchise what it is today.

No. 29 | Damon Stoudamire
Games Played with Blazers: 529 Regular Season, 46 Postseason

*PTS: 12.8 | AST: 5.7 | FG%: 40.5% | 3PT%: 35.9%

*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland

Joined Club: February 1998, acquired from the Toronto Raptors with Walt Williams and Carlos Rogers for Kenny Anderson, Cheap Gary Trent Jersey, Cheap Alvin Williams Jersey, two first-round picks, and a second-round pick

Departed Club: August 2005, departed in free agency

Place in History: Damon Stoudamire was no secret coming out of Portland’s Wilson High School and the University of Arizona. After scoring 23 per game his senior year in college, he was more than ready for the limelight when the Toronto Raptors selected him 7th overall in the 1995 NBA Draft.

Stoudamire had confidence and speed to burn. If his Rookie of the Year award in 1995-96 hadn’t confirmed his legitimacy, his 20 points per game scoring average during his first three seasons in Toronto would have. At 5’10, this young, fearless point guard was taking the league by storm.

The bulk of his precipitation would not come in the form of Canadian snow, but pure Pacific Northwest rain. Having made his mark, proving that he belonged among the best NBA point guards, Stoudamire was ready to move back to Portland, taking his hometown Trail Blazers to new heights.

As 1997 turned to 1998, the Blazers had the exact same idea. Perhaps the most unusual thing about the deal was that everybody saw it coming. The Blazers had made moves for stars before, via the draft and in trade. They were rare, though, and invariably a surprise. In this case, mutual attraction between Stoudamire and Portland had been rumored since the start of the season. Given General Manager Bob Whitsitt’s ability to draw big names and a willingness to make deals, it seemed all too perfect. Within a period of weeks, local sports talk turned from, “Could we get Damon?” to, “When will we get him?”

As it turned out, the date was February 13th, 1998. Friday the 13th might as well have been Christmas for the Blazers as they traded Kenny Anderson, Gary Trent, and Alvin Williams (plus three draft picks) to the Raptors for Stoudamire, shooting small forward Walt Williams, and little-used Carlos Rogers.

The deal was, somewhat understandably, compared to the three-player, two-pick trade that had brought Cheap Kiki Vandeweghe Jersey to the Blazers more than a decade earlier. Except this time it was speculated the Blazers had paid less for a potentially amazing return.

That assessment wasn’t all wrong. Combined, Anderson, Trent, and the outgoing Williams had played 9559 minutes in Portland. Over the next 7.5 years, Stoudamire would play 17,497, good for 10th on the Blazers’ all-time list, behind only Cheap Terry Porter Jersey and Cheap Damian Lillard Jersey among point guards. The Blazers had found their man.

Despite the overwhelming hype that accompanied his entrance, it would take Stoudamire a while to find his footing. He scored 20 points only three times in Portland during the remainder of that season, having done it 25 times with the Raptors. Walt Williams actually fit better in the system at first. But Stoudamire notched seven double-digit assist games in 22 tries with his new team. Even though their playoffs run ended abruptly at the hands of the arch-nemesis Los Angeles Lakers, Stoudamire came through with strong performances of 17, 18, and 24 points in the final three games.

Though Stoudamire’s future looked—and was— bright, he would never return to the heady scoring days of his Toronto debut. Multiple factors conspired against it. His brilliance came as a drive-and-dish guard who could also pull up for mid-range shots. That style of offense is predicated on him controlling the ball, drawing in the defense, then scoring craftily or tossing to jump-shooting teammates. Playing alongside Isaiah Rider, Cheap Rasheed Wallace Jersey, and Cheap Arvydas Sabonis Jersey required a different approach. They weren’t going to wait on the wings for catch-and-shoots. They needed touches, lane space, and plenty of time with the rock. Adding Jim Jackson, Steve Smith, and Cheap Scottie Pippen Jersey in subsequent years wouldn’t change that story.

Stoudamire also played during a transitional period when the NBA began to value the three-pointer more. This was prior to the modern rule changes that would make point guards all but untouchable, though. Instead of finding an unhindered buffet of shots in the halfcourt, Stoudamire found his bread-and-butter drives decreasing as the demands on his somewhat-streaky long-range jumper increased.

This would hold true on the other end as well. Few point guards were quicker on their feet than Damon. When opponents put the ball on the floor, he could stay with them. As enemies began to pull up and shoot over him, though, his 5’10 height began to show. Few players improved their position defense as dramatically as Stoudamire did during his years in Portland. When he was young, defense seemed an afterthought. As a veteran, he was always in the right place at the right time, a true leader in that respect. He just didn’t have the wingspan to stop the new breed of NBA guards when they rose and fired.

With those limitations understood, Stoudamire was clearly one of the better point guards in a franchise known for them. When he found daylight, he could score from anywhere. Lacking daylight, he simply created it.

Notice the play-by-play call in this video, a chronicle of Stoudamire’s 20-32, 54-point performance against the New Orleans Hornets in 2005. This was late in his career, after he had already lost a bit of that famous speed (but none of the swagger). Listen to the announcer exclaim, “You’ve got to be kidding! What are we looking at here???” That’s the reaction Damon inspired.

Now imagine all those jumpers combined with the ability to get in the lane against anyone, anywhere. Stoudamire had all of that and more.

Because he was a famed scorer, Stoudamire’s playmaking ability sometimes goes underrated. He was a floor general. You’d have to be in order to even touch the ball in the company he kept. At different times, Greg Anthony, Jeff McInnis, and Nick Van Exel might have moved into his spot, while Pippen, Smith, Wallace, Cheap Zach Randolph Jersey, or Cheap Bonzi Wells Jersey could have dominated the action, making him irrelevant after the ball crossed the timeline. How many famous, long-term point guards played on LeBron James teams, or with Kobe and Shaq? Given the makeup of the team, Stoudamire could have become an asterisk in a second.

That seldom happened. Damon kept everyone fed. On his teams, the ball moved. To this day, he trails only Porter, Lillard, and Cheap Clyde Drexler Jersey in franchise assists. And he dished every one of them during the most chaotic, turbulent decade the Trail Blazers have ever experienced.

In the Summer of 2005, it became obvious that Stoudamire’s career would last longer than Portland’s ability to do anything with it. With his team desperately in need of restructuring, Stoudamire joined the Memphis Grizzlies. He’d play there for two and a half seasons, then sign with the San Antonio Spurs to complete his NBA run at the end of 2008. Thirteen years after that R.O.Y. season, Stoudamire was still the same player: capable, in control, crafty, and dangerous.

Cheap Damon Stoudamire Jersey run in Portland may not have been everything people dreamed of. He didn’t average 20. His teams didn’t win titles. He ran afoul of authorities and headlines for indulging in marijuana…then illegal, not so much now. [Here’s your official notice: from now on, we’re officially ignoring any supposed player “infractions” involving cannabis. It was commonplace in the league for legitimate and defensible reasons. You can buy it at your corner strip mall today. If that’s the only thing tarnishing a player’s reputation, we need to apologize to them, not for them.]

Despite all that, Stoudamire’s time in Portland was authentic, productive, and welcome. Both the Blazers and their fans were better off because he suited up for them.

For the long run, the dazzling high spots, the assists, and continued presence in Portland discussions while coaching on the left coast, Damon Stoudamire earns the 29th spot on our Trail Blazers Top 100 players and influencers list.

The top names on the list are DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Andre Drummond, Otto Porter Jr., Jrue Holiday (player option), Cheap LaMarcus Aldridge Jersey, Mike Conley, Victor Oladipo, Dennis Schroder, Evan Fournier, Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell (PO), Norman Powell (PO), and Lou Williams to name a few.

The only player on that list who’s under 30 and has “superstar potential” is Victor Oladipo, a player who has had his ups and downs with the Indiana Pacers so far. His 2020-21 campaign has gotten off to a great start so far and many are saying he’s back to the Oladipo we saw two seasons ago when he won the Most Improved Player award.

Imagining Victor alongside Luka Doncic in Dallas, Jimmy Butler in Miami and Pascal Siakam in Toronto (assuming the Raptors turns things around from their early-season struggles) is exciting.

But if one of these playoff teams with cap space miss out on Oladipo, where do they turn? Most of the other players are on the wrong side of 30 and if a team approaches one of the lesser free agents, they’re going to know that there’s the opportunity to offer them more money if they don’t want to overpay.

For example, I don’t believe Montrezl Harrell is worthy of a max contract. More than he’s on now with the Los Angeles Lakers, but not max-worthy. It’d be hard for one of these teams to offer him a lesser contract, especially since he spurned the Clippers for not offering him what he wanted.

Sit on your hands and don’t waste it
Just because a team wanted to sign (potentially) the best player in the world in Giannis, it doesn’t mean they have to still go out and spend the money.

We’re seeing just how threatening a good playoff team with cap space can be to the rest of the league. The Milwaukee Bucks overpaid on the trade market for Jrue Holiday in the eyes of some as a way to show Giannis how committed they are to winning and putting a contender around him.

Yes, in the case of Luka Doncic it’s now or never with an inevitable max extension coming to Luka in two years but in the case of Miami and Toronto, they can either go for a win-now move by signing one of the aging players, look to bolster their young talent on the restricted free agency market or wait and see what the trade market looks like a year from now. Nobody would’ve known James Harden was requesting a trade before he did.

And in the case of the cap space teams who aren’t in the playoff picture right now. When/if a superstar does request a trade, there’s the possibility of salary dumping, meaning a team can sit there and wait for the load up on bad money with the payment being assets.

NEXT: The Charlotte Hornets Were Right About Gordon Hayward
It’s not the end of the world for the 2021 free agency class but if I had to say anything, it’d be that some restricted free agents are about to see a whole lot of money thrown their way.

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As the Portland Trail Blazers look towards the NBA trade deadline, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report has suggested a few targets that the team could pursue to buttress their performance on the defensive end, add a second point guard, or increase offensive production, namely Kyle Anderson, George Hill, and Kevin Love.

The Blazers need defensive help, as a 113.2 rating has them at 24th overall.

Anderson would serve as both defender and playmaker in the frontcourt. The 27-year-old has improved the Memphis Grizzlies by 9.5 points per 100 possessions this season and is on a team-friendly two-year, $19.4 million remaining contract.

Hill gives the Blazers a veteran point guard off the bench to help move the ball and space the floor. He’s a win-now piece that should help limit the workload of Cheap Damian Lillard Jersey and Cheap CJ McCollum Jersey.

Love is the wild card here. While he does nothing for the Blazers defensively, he’d make Portland completely unstoppable on offense with his three-point shooting and outlet passing. The Blazers are just 23rd in rebounding, an area Love should continue to thrive in until the day he retires.

Meanwhile, Swartz suggests that the San Antonio Spurs should aim for CJ McCollum.

McCollum is enjoying a career year thus far (28.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.5 steals) and won’t come cheap if the Blazers were to move him.

He seems like a Cheap Gary Trent Jersey Spurs-esque player with his incredible skill level and mid-range game, however, as well as his basketball IQ.

He also says the Indiana Pacers should take a look at Cheap Anfernee Simons Jersey.

Simons is in his third year with the Portland Trail Blazers but is still only 21. He’s a 6’3” scoring guard who’s only averaging 10.4 minutes off the bench for the Blazers, buried behind their star guard duo. Stretch his stats over 36 minutes and he’s averaging 17.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and shooting 38.5 percent from three. He’s never going to be a great distributor, but he won’t need to be playing alongside Malcolm Brogdon and LeVert.

Swartz also states that Cheap Gary Trent Jr. Jersey would fit in well with the Detroit Pistons.

Some team needs to pluck Trent from the Portland Trail Blazers bench and put him in their starting lineup. The 21-year-old shooting guard is averaging a career-high 11.3 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting from three in his third season.