Old NBA blockbuster can help gauge value of Blazers’ 2023 lottery pick

Jimmy Butler, Fred Hoiberg, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Jimmy Butler, Fred Hoiberg, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers appear to have one of two options this summer: Trade Damian Lillard, let him chase a championship on a contending team, and begin to rebuild; or give away whatever it takes to bring another superstar to Rip City, retool the roster, and see if Dame can win that title with the only NBA team he’s ever known.

Option No. 2 – giving away whatever it takes – would include, at minimum, some combination of Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, and Portland’s own 2023 NBA Draft pick. As the Blazers finished the season with the fifth-worst record in the league, that pick has the fifth-best odds at becoming the No. 1 overall selection.

The number of recent league-altering trades that have included a high lottery pick the offseason immediately before a specific player was drafted with that pick aren’t immense, though, so it’s hard to gauge exactly what 2023’s selection might be worth.

There is one deal, however, that could help place at least an estimated value on this year’s Portland lottery pick.

The Bulls-Timberwolves trade involving Jimmy Butler may be an eerily similar comparison

Heading into the 2017 draft, it was clear Chicago was about to enter a rebuild of its own. With Butler on the trade block, Minnesota and Jimmy’s former coach with the Bulls, Tom Thibodeau, pounced and sent a haul to bring Butler to the T-Wolves.

Considering the way it eventually played out (Butler’s infamous Rachel Nichols ESPN interview is still epic), it’s easy to forget how big of a move it was for Tibs to reunite with his star pupil at the time.

To acquire him from Chicago, Minnesota traded up-and-coming star Zach LaVine, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 draft, and Kris Dunn, who was the fifth-overall pick the year prior. In return, the Wolves received Butler and the No. 16 pick, which became big man Justin Patton.

With that No. 7 pick, the Bulls selected Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen.

So to recap quickly: it cost Minnesota a promising young player, the fifth-overall pick from the previous year’s draft, and the No. 7 pick (which became Markkanen) in the upcoming draft to acquire its superstar.

Dealing for someone of Butler’s status – at that time he was 28 years old and coming off his best statistical season – would certainly count as moving the needle for the Blazers in 2023. Think Pascal Siakam or Jaylen Brown in this instance.

If we’re using this trade as an example and Portland’s 2023 lottery pick is of relatively equal value to Minnesota’s 2017 lottery pick, that would mean the Blazers would have to include Simons (equivalent to LaVine) and likely Sharpe (equivalent to Dunn as last year’s lottery selection) in order to acquire someone such as Siakam or Brown.

Next. 3 potential trade partners if Blazers decide to deal their lottery pick. dark

Would that be a steep price to pay? Certainly. Is it worth it? Only the Blazers can decide. But it would give Lillard what he wants: the chance to compete for a championship in Portland.