Ezeli signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Trail Blazers on Thursday, Marc Spears of ESPN.com reports. After landing former-MVP Kevin Durant, the Warriors renounced the rights to Ezeli in order to open up cap space, making the center a free agent. The 26-year-old progressed greatly in his third season in the league, as he averaged 7.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 46 games with the Warriors. The Trail Blazers finally land a two-way center who will immediately make an impact in the starting rotation. Having only started 13 games last season, Ezeli should see his numbers soar in Portland, making him an intriguing option for fantasy leagues this season.
Ezeli had his rights renounced by the Warriors Monday following Kevin Durant's decision to join the team, making him an unrestricted free agent, Marc J. Spears of ESPN reports. Durant's arrival in Golden State will require the team to clear up some cap space, and that starts with allowing Ezeli onto the free market. The 26-year-old boasts a lot of potential with his size and athleticism, but has lacked the basic fundamentals at times to make him a consistently productive center in the NBA. He is coming off a season where he averaged 7.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over 17 minutes per game.
Ezeli went scoreless (0-4 FG) and collected a rebound and an assist across 11 minutes in Sunday's 93-89 Game 7 loss to the Cavaliers. Ezeli entered the starting lineup for Game 7 as coach Steve Kerr looked to use a natural center in place of the injured Andrew Bogut (knee), but Ezeli's awful play resulted in Kerr leaning quite heavily on small-ball lineups. While he served as a quality backup for much of the first half of the season, Ezeli struggled to make an impact after returning to action in early April from an arthroscopic knee procedure that cost him over two months. Over his 29 games following his return (including playoffs), Ezeli averaged just 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds over 9.0 minutes per game.
Ezeli will start at small forward for Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Ezeli replaces Andre Iguodala, who suffered some back tightness in Game 6 on Thursday. Head coach Steve Kerr expects Iguodala to play, but instead will come off the bench behind Ezeli. It's unclear how much the back injury will effect Iguodala, but in the case that he plays less because of it, it's likely Ezeli will see a bump in playing time.
Ezeli had two points (1-3 FG), three rebounds and a blocked shot in 10 minutes of Monday night's 112-97 loss to Cleveland in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Ezeli, who played a combined four minutes in Games 3 and 4, got a bump in playing time after Andrew Bogut left the game with a sprained knee. With Bogut unavailable and the team already without Draymond Green (suspension), head coach Steve Kerr used several combination of players, but never hit on the right rotation to improve the Warriors' effectiveness on defense. As such, Ezeli, Marreese Speights (11 minutes) and Anderson Varejao (nine minutes) all got some court time. Bogut's injury looks bad, so there's a good chance he won't be available for Game 6 in Cleveland on Thursday. If Bogut can't play and Kerr wants a big to replace him in the starting lineup, Ezeli is the likely choice.
Last 7 Games
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