Trail Blazers' GM Neil Olshey said Ezeli's contract for the 2017-18 season won't be guaranteed, making him an unrestricted free agent, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports.
Ezeli was expected to bring the Trail Blazers a much-needed defensive presence in the frontcourt this past season, but a previous left knee injury continued to hamper his availability to take the court. Despite originally expecting to miss just six weeks after receiving a pain injection early in year, Ezeli eventually suffered a setback in his rehab and would go on to miss the entire 2016-17 campaign, finishing with yet another season-ending surgery in March. With a non-guaranteed $7.73 million contract for next season on tap, GM Neil Olshey wasted no time making the decision to drop him, as just a day after the Trail Blazers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Warriors, he announced the team wouldn't keep Ezeli around. Ezeli will be an unrestricted free agent and can sign with anyone, although his most recent knee surgery could hold him out for a good chunk of the 2017-18 season as well, which will likely keep most teams away for the time being.
Ezeli (knee) underwent season-ending surgery Wednesday.
Ezeli never suited up with the Trail Blazers this season, as the left knee troubles surfaced almost immediately after he signed with the team in the summer. The 27-year-old's procedure reportedly required the use of a cadaver donor and is more intricate than most knee surgeries, so it appears likely that Ezeli may require a longer recovery time that could sideline him for much of the 2017-18 campaign. Expect the Trail Blazers to decline their $7.73 million team option on the center this offseason.
Ezeli (knee), who is set to undergo season-ending surgery during the upcoming week, could require up to a year to recover from the procedure, ESPN.com's Chris Haynes reports.
Ezeli has been plagued by knee trouble throughout his brief NBA career, previously requiring surgery on both knees during his time with the Warriors. Shortly after signing a two-year deal with the Trail Blazers in the offseason, Ezeli required injections in his left knee that ultimately failed to ease the pain, forcing him to undergo another procedure. His impending surgery is expected to require the use of a cadaver donor, which will likely result in a longer recovery timetable than most knee operations. With that in mind, it seems rather unlikely that the Trail Blazers will exercise Ezeli's $7.7 million team option for 2017-18, and the center figures to remain unsigned until he's fully recovered from surgery.
Ezeli will undergo season-ending surgery on his left knee during the upcoming week.
After signing a two-year, $15.1 million deal with the Trail Blazers over the summer, it was expected that Ezeli would slot in as the team's backup center and offer a rim-protecting presence, but that never came to fruition after his career-long knee troubles reared their head later on in the offseason. Ezeli received injections in his left knee in late August, and after progressing to practices in October, he hit another snag in his rehab that ultimately left him with no other alternative than to go under the knife. With Ezeli likely in store for another long rehab process that could sideline him for the start of the 2017-18 season, it seems likely that the Trail Blazers will decline his $7.7 million team option over the summer, sending him back into free agency after having not logged a single minute over the past season.
Ezeli isn't traveling on the Blazers' current four-game road trip, but his agent indicated that the center isn't facing an impending surgery on his ailing left knee, Jason Quick of CSN Northwest reports.
With Ezeli making limited progress since undergoing a pair of injections in his left knee in August after previously requiring surgery on the knee in February, the Trail Blazers have provided minimal updates on the big man's condition and continue to list him as out indefinitely. Ezeli still seems hopeful to avoid season-ending surgery, but given that he's not yet working out and is far behind the curve from a conditioning standpoint, it appears that a return well after the All-Star break is a best-case scenario for the 27-year-old.
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