PORTLAND — At 9:01 Tuesday night, 12:01 Wednesday morning at the NBA offices in Secaucus, New Jersey, the 2015-16 NBA season began.
And rather than wait for the fates of all their free-agents to be officially decided, the Portland Trail Blazers were the first franchise to attract a free agent who played elsewhere last season.
The Blazers have agreed to sign a 4-year $30 million deal with Dallas Mavericks forward Al-Farouq Aminu.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was the first to report the terms of contract while Aminu confirmed via twitter.
The Blazers cannot officially sign Aminu until the NBA free-agent moratorium ends on July 9.
The attraction to Aminu is multi-faceted.
First and foremost, President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey knows him, having picked him with the No. 8 pick in the 2010 NBA draft when Olshey was still in charge of the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Headed to Portland with my guy Neil Olshey, who believed in me since day one,” Aminu tweeted. “Much love.”
In addition to the fact that their top decision maker knows Aminu, the 24-year old forward out of Wake Forest who has had stints on the Nigerian National Team in the Olympics, brings versatility.
While the 6-9 Aminu is listed as a small forward on the roster, he has played quite a few minutes with the Dallas Mavericks at the power forward spot.
Of the players on last year’s Blazers team, only Dorell Wright could guard both forward positions with consistency.
During meetings between the Mavericks and Blazers this season, Aminu was frequently used at power forward to bother Blazers free-agent big man LaMarcus Aldridge.
While Wright is a better shooter, Aminu is an upgrade defensively, especially with rebounding.
Wright was the best non-big man player on the Blazers roster in terms of total rebounding percentage, grabbing 10 percent of available rebounds.
In his five year career, Aminu hasn’t had a season where he’s dipped lower than 10.8 in rebounding percentage. Last season he rebounded nearly 14 percent of available rebounds according to Basketball-Reference last year.