No announcement yet.

Blazers Sign Festus Ezeli To 2 Years $15 Million

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Blazers Sign Festus Ezeli To 2 Years $15 Million

    Festus Ezeli signs a 2-year deal with the Trail Blazers worth $15 million, per report

    Unrestricted free agent Festus Ezeli will sign a two-year deal worth $15 million with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. There's a team option on the second year, per Marc J. Spears.

    Ezeli was gone as soon as the Warriors signed Kevin Durant. Golden State renounced their rights on him, which shed his restricted free agent status. Instead, the Warriors signed Zaza Pachulia and David West to fill the middle.

    It's a great signing for Portland, who previously pursued Dwight Howard, among other free agent centers, this offseason. The Trail Blazers need a true two-way center who can give their dynamic backcourt a pick-and-roll threat and anchor the defense, and there's a chance that Ezeli is that guy. The two-year deal gives the Blazers great value and Ezeli a chance to prove himself after a disastrous second half and get paid in two years if he excels.

    Either way, the deal is a significant pay raise. As the 30th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, he made just a shade over $2 million last winter.

    Ezeli was a project coming out of Vanderbilt in 2012, but the Warriors first-round pick paid off dividends by developing into a fierce rim protector for an NBA champion team. The Nigerian had fewer than 10 years of organized basketball experience before jumping to the pros. He started 41 games as a rookie but played only 14.4 minutes per game in Golden State as the Warriors experimented with the small ball lineups that would eventually propel them to the NBA's elite.

    Injuries -- and Mark Jackson's weird team-building exercises -- derailed Ezeli's sophomore year, but he emerged as a key piece of the Warriors' 2015 title run despite missing 36 games to injury. He provided a high-energy presence from the bench and wasn't afraid to mix it up with opponents' big men in the paint. He also showed off his underrated athleticism with some highlight reel dunks.

    2015-16 was Ezeli's strongest campaign yet, though he did miss 36 games due to lower body injuries. He averaged 7.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game despite earning just 16.7 minutes per contest. He set career highs in scoring, field goal percentage, assists, rebound rate, win shares, and PER while cutting his turnover rate to a career low.

    Now he'll work to convert those skills into a breakout performance in 2016-17. The 26-year-old Ezeli has the strength and rim protection skills to be a throwback center, but his athleticism and ability to cut to the basket in the pick-and-roll has kept him from getting exposed by smaller rosters. With Portland, Ezeli is still young enough to fit well with their quickly moving timeline.