Trail Blazers Signing Center Ibou Badji to a Two-Way Contract, Waiving Olivier Sarr
Portland is adding another developmental center.
The Trail Blazers plan to waive two-way center Olivier Sarr and sign center Ibou Badji to a two-way deal to replace him, a league source confirmed. The move was first reported by ESPN.
Badji, a native of Senegal, came up in the NBA Academy Africa program and played professionally in Spain for three seasons before going undrafted in June. He's currently with the Wisconsin Herd of the G League.
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In December of 2020, in his former job as a draft analyst for ESPN, current Blazers assistant general manager Mike Schmitz wrote a scouting report on Badji that compared his upside to useful shot-blocking NBA centers like JaVale McGee, Hassan Whiteside and Mitchell Robinson.
Standing 6-foot-11.5 barefoot, with a 7-foot-9 wingspan and elite feet for a player his size, Badji put a lid on the rim defensively for stretches, getting to shots few NBA centers could wipe away. His 3.2 blocks per 40 minutes wasn't indicative of his enormous impact around the rim. Badji is an ambidextrous shot-blocker whose reach and quick leaping ability make him a force as a defensive anchor when he's fully engaged. He even showed glimpses of verticality technique that we hadn't always seen from him in the past.
But with a strong frame, incredible length and elite run-and-jump athleticism, Badji could already hold his own physically in the NBA. He'll be one of only two NBA players with a wingspan 7-foot-9 or greater, joining Mo Bamba and Tacko Fall. Even with some of Badji's shortcomings and his limited role in Barcelona, it's difficult to envision all 30 teams passing on him twice.
Mike Schmitz, ESPN
Badji joins center John Butler Jr. as the Blazers' second two-way contract player. Butler has appeared in just one game and played nine minutes of garbage time for the Blazers. Sarr, who had a strong preseason and appeared poised to compete for real minutes before suffering a wrist injury, wasn't going to be ready to return soon and the Blazers felt they needed more frontcourt depth.
Badji likely won't play much right away and could see time in the G League in the coming weeks. Second-year forward Greg Brown III is currently playing for the Ontario Clippers.