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Report: Former IU basketball star Cody Zeller signs free agent deal with Portland

ESPN is reporting free agent center and former IU basketball star Cody Zeller has signed a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The 29-year old Zeller has spent the last eight seasons — his entire NBA career — in Charlotte, and he will now relocate across the country in search of more team success.

Zeller said recently playing for a winning team was a high priority during a recent episode of “The Woj Pod” with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“In my mind, a team that’s top four in their conference, they’re playing for home-court advantage, they aren’t playing to make the playoffs — they’re playing for home-court advantage and then anything can happen once you get in the playoffs,” Zeller told Wojnarowski. “In my mind, that’s a winning team. Even if that means me playing 15, 20 minutes as the backup center on a team like that, that would be my ideal role in free agency.”

The Hornets only made the NBA Playoffs twice during Zeller’s time in Charlotte, losing in the first round in both 2014 and 2016.

Led by point guard Damian Lillard, Portland finished the 2021-22 campaign with a 42-30 record.  They were eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs by Denver.  Portland has made the playoffs every season since Zeller was drafted.  They won four series during that span and reached the conference finals in 2019.

Zeller played two seasons with Indiana and was an immediate success, winning the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2012 as voted on by the coaches. He was first-team All-Big Ten for the 2012-13 season. For his Indiana career the Washington, Ind. native averaged 16.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and shot 59.3% from the field.

Zeller was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, two selections after Indiana teammate Victor Oladipo.

For his NBA career Zeller has appeared in 467 games, starting 273 times.  He has averaged 8.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per contest.

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