As the trade deadline came and went, Portland Trail Blazers came to the realization that their team was done making deals — at least until the offseason.
Joe Cronin’s first deadline grade will have to wait as it remains an incomplete, as the Blazers roster is obviously far from a finished product or even halfway to one.
Here’s a straightforward recap of the moves Cronin made before the 2022 NBA trade deadline.
Portland Trail Blazers 2022 NBA trade deadline recap
Trade number one:
Portland sends Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round draft pick. This was likely a cost saving move by the Blazers, trading Powell’s five-year $90 million contract.
Portland sent nine-year veteran shooting guard CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans, along with forwards Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell, in exchange for guards Josh Hart, Tomáš Satoranský, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Didi Louzada. The Blazers will also receive the rights to New Orleans’s 2022 first-round pick, should it land between the fifth and 14th selections.
Blazers quickly sent recently acquired Alexander-Walker an, Satoransky in a three-team trade involving the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs. Portland received forward Joe Ingles who likely won’t wear a Portland jersey (out for the season with torn ACL and a free agent at the end of the season), Elijah Hughes, and a second-round pick from the Jazz. Interim General Manager Joe Cronin in his news conference called Ingles “a player they really liked… and valued his Bird rights.”
What does this all mean for Portland?:
There are probably a lot of questions right now. Why did they trade a twenty points plus per game player like McCollum? Many had seen this coming the past couple of years including Damian Lillard.
"“We both knew that this point would be coming, but that don’t make it easier to deal with.” Lillard told the Blazers’ Casey Holdahl."
Some have called Lillard and McCollum basically the same player, and the need to break up the backcourt duo became increasingly evident as the tandem racked up games together. These trades save Portland from the luxury tax. They created a $21 million trade exception they can use this offseason, as well as the possibility of $60 million in salary-cap space. They have a couple of key free agents in Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkić, who could and should be resigned. Perhaps they could use the space in free agency and bring in Zach LaVine or another top-tier mercenary set to hit the market this summer. There is a lot still to be played out and lots of games still remaining to see where the Blazers’ potentially two first-round picks will land in the upcoming draft.
In the same news conference, Cronin said on the main reasoning for the trades,
"“It became evident to us that the roster had plateaued. It was a team that was built to fit a specific coaching style and a style of play that we didn’t feel was conducive to the way Chauncey (head coach Billups) and myself wanted to play.”“We were capped out, we were a team that would have cost, would have been in the luxury tax by $15 million next season, with not many ways to improve.”"
If Portland fails to make the playoffs and ends up in the lottery, they could get a high draft pick or two depending on New Orleans the rest of the way. The Pelicans have the sixth-toughest schedule and an injured Zion Williamson. If the McCollum addition falters for New Orleans, it could result in a player such as Jabari Smith if it lands in the top three, or even a Keegan Murray if the Pelicans just miss out on a playoff spot.
There were reports the Blazers were highly interested in Detroit’s Jerami Grant prior to the deadline. There’s a strong possibility that Portland will attempt to acquire him again in the offseason.
Was this enough for Cronin to keep his job? That’s another question and storyline to follow.
If you’re wanting another player to be acquired now, they could sign a player waived by another team. They recently waived
to make room for their amalgam of newly added pieces, but will likely need to cut another player in order to sign Trendon Watford to a full-time contract for the rest of the season. They may also look for another big in the buy-out market as Jusuf Nurkic needs a backup following Zeller’s injury and subsequent dismissal from the team.
We all just need to stay tuned, be patient, and wait to see what’s yet to come.