Blazers sign Ibou Badji to two-way contract

The Trail Blazers are signing center Ibou Badji to another two-way contract, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Ibou Badji

From Dakar, Senegal, 21-year-old Badji, 7-foot-1, spent most of last season on a two-way contract with the Blazers, however, he did not receive any playing time. To note, this current contract will actually be Badji’s third two-way deal in Portland, as he signed a second two-way deal with the team this July, but was waived at the start of the regular season when fellow center Duop Reath was signed in September. 

After playing overseas as a teenager, Badji originally went undrafted in 2022 and joined the Bucks’ G League affiliate Wisconsin Herd, to begin the 2022-23 season. In his last two seasons with the team, the Senegalese big man averaged 5.6 points (61.1% FG), 5.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks. 

Certainly, after the Blazers lost Robert Williams III to season-ending knee surgery, they need all the help they can get in the frontcourt. The organization is hopeful that Badji can develop into a versatile big man, who may end up becoming a solid backup center in the future.

Badji has shown flashes of potential, having the ability to be a solid rim protector with an almost eight-foot wingspan, he has demonstrated outstanding shot-blocking capability when playing in Europe. To point out, Badji was 7-foot tall ever since he was 15 years old, and as a result since then, he has emerged as one of the best prospects in his age group. The big man played for the FC Barcelona 18U team, appearing on the scouts’ radar when he averaged eight points, 8.8 rebounds, and five blocks per game at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament during the 2019-2020 season.

That is to say, Badji has always drawn recognition with the combination of his height, quick-twitched athleticism, and strong build, yet scouts were also surprised by his offensive game. Although very raw, Badji has shown glimpses of having jump-shooting ability and good ball-handling skills, considering his size. If the Blazers’ new signing can develop his game, he may turn out to be more than just a back-to-the-basket type of center as his career goes forward. 

That is to say, once Badji officially signs with the team, the Blazers will be back to having the maximum 18 players under contract, which includes 15 players on standard deals, and then Badji will fill the third two-way slot, which was vacated when point guard Jamaree Bouyea was waived from his contract earlier today. 

For now, it appears Badji will primarily spend most of his time playing in the NBA G-League with the Rip City Remix, the Blazers’ affiliate. And given his relatively raw skill set, it may take time before he makes his first NBA appearance. 

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