Center Jusuf Nurkic was thrilled with his trade from the Denver Nuggets to the Portland Trail Blazers in February, and his production and outstanding play energized the fans. Nurkic's season was cut short due to the non-displaced fracture in his right leg. The 23-year-old spent most of the offseason working with Portland's training staff, and he is expecting to play a vital role for the Blazers this season.
"I set a goal for myself to be in position where I wanted to be in the best shape," Nurkic told the Portland Tribune. "I completed the goal. I'm in the best shape of my life, and I'm the best mentally I can be. I've never been like this before."
Nurkic, along with Noah Vonleh and Shabazz Napier, is eligible to sign an extension from his rookie-scale contract up until Oct. 16. Whether a new deal is signed by that deadline, or sometime next July, Nurkic just wants it done so he can stay in Portland for the long term.
"I want to be here," Nurkic said. "It's no secret. I feel like it's the best place for me, with how the city responds to me, the fans. It's on my agent and the team to figure out things."
-- Nick Silva