Priority No. 2: Find a franchise center
Jusuf Nurkic has been MIA since the beginning of February with a calf injury. In his place, head coach Chauncy Billups has been forced to play Drew Eubanks and Trendon Watford, neither of whom are serious rotation centers in the NBA.
Even before Nurk’s injury, though, he seemed slower than in the past and more disengaged from night to night. He may have been thought of as the long-term answer at center at one point, but he isn’t anymore.
With Lillard and Anfernee Simons (at least for now) holding down the backcourt and the glut of wings on the Trail Blazers roster – Reddish, Thybulle, Nassir Little, Shaedon Sharpe, Grant – the last piece of the puzzle appears to be finding a center that can hold down that spot for as long as Dame remains in Portland.
The list of game-changing big men available in free agency is short, if not completely empty; that means Cronin will have to dip into his pool of assets and work out a trade to bring someone in.
No matter who it is, the Blazers roster, as constructed, needs certain attributes at the position. Length, athleticism, interior defense, and rebounding are must-haves, and some semblance of an offensive game would be the cherry on top.