Trail Blazers

So who will be Trail Blazers' starting center -- Enes Kanter, Harry Giles or...?

Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers are meeting today to set a course for what to do after the loss of center Jusuf Nurkic to a broken right wrist Thursday night.

Stand pat or make a move to find another big? Make a major deal or simply add a backup?

There are not a lot of great options in the near term and if the team wants to make a big move it will likely have to wait until Feb. 6 -- when players acquired as free agents during the offseason can be dealt.

For now, it’s the usual list of free agents who are unemployed for any number of reasons. In other words, limited big men who probably would come here only to fill a role as the third center behind Enes Kanter and Harry Giles. An emergency option.

With Kanter and Giles, the Trail Blazers are much better equipped than most NBA teams to withstand the loss of a quality starting center. Kanter, in fact, filled in capably two years ago during the team’s run to the Western Conference finals, after Nurkic suffered a fractured leg.

Giles, a young player who was once thought to be one of the best prospects in the country, has played well in mostly limited appearances and his teammates have spoken highly of his talent and work ethic.

 

The injury to Nurkic should certainly open the door for Giles to get more playing time.

But Coach Terry Stotts has almost always been reluctant to use young players for extended minutes. After a solid exhibition season, Giles has been in that spot.

If the team makes a move for a young prospect, it isn’t likely he would be used in a key role. There is no guarantee, in fact, that Giles will be used for extended minutes behind Kanter. The Blazers have had some success with a small-ball lineup that features Robert Covington at center.

One possibility would be to thrust Giles into the starting lineup and keep the bench rotation intact by using Kanter in his same role.

Stotts used that gambit with Noah Vonleh, who started 56 games in 2015-16 but averaged only 15.1 minutes per game.

Vonleh, not a center but a power forward, could also be a possible stopgap replacement if the Trail Blazers want to bring someone in who is familiar with their system. He was waived by the Bulls in December.

Another former Trail Blazer who would be a possibility is center Skal Labissiere, who was waived by the Knicks in December. A look at possible roster candidates can be found here.