Interim General Manager Joe Cronin should be looking at all viable options to try to improve the Portland Trail Blazers right now. Losers of 16 of their last 20 games, there has been a complete void of hope within the team.
Damian Lillard started to put up his usual astronomical numbers before being sidelined with another flare-up regarding his abdominal tendinopathy, but the Blazers are only 12-17 with him in the lineup. Even if CJ McCollum returns soon, Portland was only treading water at 10-10 with their renowned star backcourt in place.
Joe Cronin doesn’t have the luxury of just waiting for the cavalry to recover and storm in to save the day — at least if the goal is to do more than earn a first-round drubbing at the hands of one of the top Western Conference squads. It’s clear that even at full-strength, this roster doesn’t have the fit, chemistry, or talent to compete with the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, or even the Utah Jazz. Even the Los Angeles Lakers with all of their baggage could probably wax the Blazers in a quick series.
The Portland Trail Blazers may have to take some huge risks to save their season
With all of that in mind, Cronin has two options for this season:
- Shut down Damian Lillard for the rest of the season, actively lose games, and reset the roster in anticipation for the 2022-2023 season.
- Take some major swings and shake up the team around Lillard and try to make an unprecedented run starting now to take their best shot at the 2021-2022 NBA Title.
Both paths have their pros and cons. Number one allows Lillard time to heal and for Cronin to use patience to try to find the best possible deals available. Number two prevents wasting another year of Dame’s prime, but puts a desperation among the team that other general managers can take advantage of.
If Cronin chooses door number two, he’ll have to take some risks: moves that have a lower success rate but a potentially huge payoff.
The Houston Rockets happen to have two players that might be available that fit that criteria perfectly: