Trail Blazers

Report: Former Trail Blazers big Wenyen Gabriel to sign with New Orleans

Trail Blazers

The writing was on the wall. The Trail Blazers roster is set, despite having an open roster spot. They're heading into next season with 14 players. 

Wenyen Gabriel will not be among the players in Rip City next season after reportedly agreeing to a two-year, minimum contract with the New Orleans Pelicans according to ESPN's Andrew Lopez.

New Orleans has a team option on the second year of the deal. 

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Gabriel arrived in Rip City as a part of the Trevor Ariza trade as matching salary, but he made an impact on the floor for Portland averaging 2.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game in 19 appearances.  

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People will likely remember Gabriel starting at power forward against the Los Angeles Lakers in January with Carmelo Anthony not traveling with the team to play in the Lakers first game since Kobe Bryant's death. The Blazers earn a 127-119 victory in the City of Angels. He got his next start, coincidentally, against the Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round, putting up four points and three rebounds in 16 minutes in the Blazers 100-93 upset of the future NBA Champions. 

Gabriel got the start in the postseason after Zach Collins suffered a season-ending ankle injury during the Blazers play-in game versus Memphis.

 

The Trail Blazers signed center Harry Giles to a minimum contract and bringing the team to 14 players, so the window for Gabriel's return was all but closed. Now, he has a new home. 

The 6'9", 205-pound power forward went undrafted out of Kentucky in the 2018 NBA Draft but signed a two-way deal with Sacramento and did not appear in a regular season game. In 2019, the Kings upgraded his deal to a standard deal and he saw action in 11 games before being traded to Portland. 

In New Orleans, Gabriel should be a nice upside swing as he showed glimpses of being an impact big man who knows his role of hustling for extra posessions and playing hard-nosed defense. Gabriel also has some shooting promise with shooting 70% from the free-throw line and making 6-of-20 three-pointers last season. If that jumper develops, Gabriel could pair nicely with Zion who needs a stretch-5 to play opposite him. 

Best of luck in New Orleans, Wenyen!