Dennis Smith Jr has officially been signed to the 14th spot on the roster for the Portland Trail Blazers. Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news on Twitter this morning.
As reported by Jason Quick earlier in the week, the Blazers are electing not to use the 15th spot on their roster. The team backed up that reporting by waiving Marquese Chriss, Patrick Patterson, and Quinn Cook today.
Cutting Patterson and Cook seemed like a foregone conclusion after neither player got much run in preseason action. However, the Blazers going into a season without a 3rd center on the roster seems risky considering Jusuf Nurkic’s injury history and Cody Zeller already down with a broken nose.
Larry Nance Jr and Robert Covington will likely fill in when needed at center in small ball situations, but not signing another true big man may be a mistake. Chriss didn’t play particularly well in preseason but did enough to at least warrant a discussion on using that 15th spot. Portland could still look elsewhere to fill that spot as well. Harry Giles III, who played for the Blazers last season, was let go by the Clippers today.
It doesn’t appear that Portland wants to carry 15 players though. In this case, leaving that roster open for flexibility reasons doesn’t make much sense because whoever they signed would likely be willing to sign a non-guaranteed contract. With a non-guaranteed contract, the Blazers would have until January to fully guarantee that contract. Given that, it’s hard to see not using the 15th spot as anything other than financially motivated, as it would push the Blazers a little further into the luxury tax.
As for Smith Jr, he was the clear-cut winner of the training camp battle. He played well enough that the team might even feel comfortable putting him into action if he has to play during the regular season. Combine that with still having a bit of potential left to become the player many thought he would be coming into the league, it’s about all you can ask for out of a training camp signee.
Terms of the Dennis Smith Jr contract have not yet been released. Blazers Uprise will update everyone when that information becomes available.