This was a smart pickup by a patient GM.
Golden State had to renounce its rights to center Festus Ezeli to make room for Kevin Durant, and now Portland has swooped in and picked up the big man for two years at a very reasonable price. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news.
Free-agent center Festus Ezeli has agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, league sources told The Vertical. Ezeli will compete for minutes with Portland’s Mason Plumlee at center….
Ezeli met with Blazers officials and medical staff late Wednesday and into Thursday, and reached agreement on a deal Thursday night. Ezeli missed six weeks of the regular season after left knee surgery and concerns over his sturdiness likely cost him a stronger financial commitment in the free-agent market.
The actual contract may be a little less than reported.
While he struggled in the Finals (particularly Game 7), Ezeli brings some rim protection and athleticism to the center spot for Portland. He can run the floor in transition, crash the boards, and play the pick-and-roll with Portland’s stud guards. This is a good signing at this price.
Portland GM Neil Olshey had taken some criticism this offseason for his $70 million Evan Turner contract, the one I think was the worst deal handed out this off-season. Portland wanted another playmaker and guy who can defend multiple positions, but he’s an inefficient shooter and not quick enough to be a real quality defender. Turner is a below average player (who could improve to replacement level) but got paid like a star.
The Ezeli signing is more the Olshey most of us expect — a smart move where he got a nice player at a good price and, if it doesn’t work out, he’s not on the hook for much. It’s a move that makes Portland better.