Blazers to call up big man Chris Johnson?

With Marcus Camby out with a knee injury until at least the middle of next month, the Trail Blazers find themselves in very familiar territory — in need of another center.

So what do they plan to do about it?

Citing a source “close to the situation” Sunday, Scott Schroeder reported on that the Blazers will call up Chris Johnson, a center from the NBA Development League’s Dakota Wizards. Portland general manager Rich Cho would not comment on the potential signing.

Standing 6-foot-11 and weighing approximately 210 pounds, Johnson is averaging 17.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in just over 33 minutes per game for Dakota. Saturday, in a loss to Rio Grande, the LSU product tallied 34 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks while going 13 of 23 from the field.

It has been speculated that the Blazers will have to release someone in order to sign Johnson since they already have 15 players under contract, but this isn’t necessarily true.

Portland was granted a hardship exception that enables the team to sign a 16th player to as many as two 10-day contracts, which would allow the Blazers to evaluate Johnson (or another player) as the February 24 trade deadline looms.

In order to qualify for the exception, a team must first lose three players due to injury for three games each, and each player must be projected to sit out at least two weeks. The Blazers met this criteria via Greg Oden, Brandon Roy and Elliot Williams.

Then, a fourth player must miss three games due to injury, which occurred Saturday when Camby sat out against the Pacers.

Joel Przybilla and Sean Marks are the only two “true” centers still healthy for the Blazers, but the pair combined for just 19 minutes in a win over the Pacers Saturday.

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or

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