Jusuf Nurkic says he’s returning for Trail Blazers-Rockets on March 15

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic
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The Trail Blazers – 3.5 games behind the eighth-place Grizzlies and with the Kings, Spurs and Pelicans lurking – have a narrow path to the playoffs.

Enter a wide man – Jusuf Nurkic.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who has been sidelined for almost a year after a devastating leg injury, told Yahoo Sports he will make his season debut March 15 against the Houston Rockets.

This will be nearly a year after Nurkic got hurt.

Hassan Whiteside has been fine as a stop-gap starting center in Nurkic’s absence. Portland will have to determine which of those two will start and finish and how much playing time each will get. Nurkic’s conditioning after a long layoff will obviously factor.

The Trail Blazers have been a wreck at backup center all season. Whoever comes off the bench, Nurkic or Whiteside will provide a big upgrade in that role.

Portland has a superstar in Damian Lillard. Nurkic is returning. Zach Collins could get healthy. The Trail Blazers could be more dangerous in the playoffs than the typical No. 8 seed with a mediocre record.

If they get in.