Portland Trail Blazers hopes and draft lottery balls now all in one basket

The Portland Trail Blazers 2021-2022 season technically ended on April 10 when they were mercy killed by the Utah Jazz by 31 points. Unfortunately, Portland’s misery continued past their regular season schedule, despite the team failing to make the postseason. On Friday, April 15, the New Orleans Pelicans edged out a Paul George-less Los Angeles Clippers squad in their second Play-In game, ultimately landing them the eighth-seed and keeping their 2022 first-round draft pick out of the lottery and the Trail Blazers’ grasps.

With CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. helping to carry their new team into the playoffs, the new breakdown of the Blazers-Pelicans trade is penciled in as follows:

The Trail Blazers received Josh Hart, Didi Louzada, Elijah Hughes, Joe Ingles’s expiring contract, and the Milwaukee Bucks 2025 top-four protected first-round draft pick in exchange for CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. This wasn’t exactly the rosiest outcome, as a then-one-sided trade looks even worse now in retrospect.

Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, draft lottery

Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, draft lottery (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The Portland Trail Blazers fate lies in the upcoming draft lottery

Many Blazers fans who were already upset over the initial trade have hit the panic button and are preparing for the imminent collapse of the Damian Lillard era in Portland. Others, those who thought the trade was fine to begin with, have argued that the Pelicans’ lottery pick was of less importance to Portland’s upcoming off-season than it was made out to be.

It’s been rumored that the New Orleans pick was always going to be used as part of a trade package for Jerami Grant. That might not have changed now that the selection will be coming from Milwaukee in 2025. If General Manager Joe Cronin can still bring Grant to Portland as planned, then the Pelicans’ playoff appearance will have had little consequence on the Blazers.

But for those who dreamed of adding two top-10 draft prospects, or even top-five, to this Trail Blazers squad, those dreams have been dashed. The off-season, and Dame’s future, now depends entirely on the Trail Blazers’ own draft selection and the few assets that Cronin accrued from trading away Norman Powell, Robert Covington, CJ McCollum, and Larry Nance Jr.

Let’s hope the basketball gods shine brighter on Portland on lottery day than they did in the Play-In Tournament.