The Portland Trail Blazers’ draft picks will play a significant role in the franchise’s offseason decisions. General manager Joe Cronin will either include some in a trade to upgrade the roster around Damian Lillard, or deal Lillard to bring back more of them as part of a full rebuild.
Portland’s pick situation, though, is a bit complicated moving forward.
Trail Blazers draft picks this season and beyond
The major complication stems from former GM Neil Olshey’s decision to trade an oddly protected first-round pick. He sent it to Chicago as part of a deal that brought Larry Nance Jr. to Portland which, in retrospect, wasn’t worth acquiring Nance, let alone sending out a first rounder for him.
Backtracking for a moment, though, the Blazers have two first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. They have a high lottery pick that has the fifth-best odds to land at No. 1. If Cronin’s play is to acquire another star or a handful of role players to continue retooling the roster around Lillard, that selection carries significant value.
Portland also has the 23rd overall pick, which it acquired as part of the trade that sent Josh Hart to the New York Knicks at this past year’s deadline. This pick could come in handy if Cronin can use it to work out a deal with the Bulls to remove the protections on the pick they owe Chicago.
That first-round selection owed to the Bulls is lottery-protected through 2028. Portland keeps it this season, so those protections now roll over to 2024. Finding a way to work with Chicago to remove the protections would mean the Blazers are able to trade any of their first-round picks moving forward.
As long as Portland owes that pick to Chicago, though, it can’t trade away any first-round picks that could belong to the Bulls, which means every first through 2028. If they do work out a deal to remove those protections, they could theoretically offer first-round selections in 2024, 2026, 2028, and 2030. Because of the NBA’s Stepien Rule that means teams need to hold a first rounder at least every other season, the Blazers could then offer first round pick swaps in 2025, 2027, and 2029 as a way to circumvent said Stepien rule.
Removing the protections on the pick the Blazers owe Chicago is the skeleton key to unlocking the tradability of their future firsts.
The picks Portland owns in the next three seasons via RealGM include:
- 2023 first-round pick (No. 3)
- 2023 first-round pick (via New York), 23rd overall
- 2023 second-round pick (via Atlanta), 43rd overall
- 2024 second-round pick (via Atlanta)
- 2024 second-round pick (more favorable between Charlotte and Minnesota)
- 2025 second-round pick (via Atlanta, protected between picks 41-60)