The Portland Trail Blazers trade asset cupboard is more full than some people may think.
The Blazers have the fifth-best odds at landing the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft – those odds give them a 10.5 percent chance at the top selection, and they’re guaranteed to pick in the top nine. They also have the rights to the New York Knicks’ 23rd overall selection.
Not only does Portland have two first-round picks in a draft loaded with potential stars, it also has two rising stars of its own in Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe.
Damian Lillard’s take on the offseason situation was interpreted as him saying he’d like to see the team trade its draft pick to progress its timeline to match his own at age 32.
If the Blazers make a blockbuster trade this offseason in an attempt to contend immediately, a few teams stand out as ideal trade partners.
Like the Blazers, these teams must also shake things up with their respective rosters for differing reasons. These teams were highlighted because they could be good trade partners due to their varying needs and roster timelines.
For example, the Blazers appear willing to trade some of their younger assets to contend with Lillard. Meanwhile, most teams mentioned below are stuck in the middle of the pack and need younger assets to catalyze their retooling or rebuilding processes.
Team No. 1 – Chicago Bulls
Chicago, like Portland, underperformed this season. The Bulls finished with a record of 40-42. They failed to make the playoffs after losing a play-in game as the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls owe the Orland Magic their first-round pick in this year’s draft (top four protected) and a 2025 first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs (top 10 protected).
Six-time NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan is now 33, and it’s clear the Bulls aren’t making a deep playoff run with their current core. This team needs more draft equity. They are in a less than ideal situation with an aging star, stuck in no-man’s-land as a middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference team.
It makes sense for them to move pieces around this offseason.
Star Zach LaVine linked to Damian Lillard
Zach LaVine has previously been linked to Lillard after their time spent together on Team USA. In the 2020 Summer Olympics, Team USA won the gold medal in Toyko.
Lillard gave LaVine a lot of credit for his ability to adapt and become more of a glue guy and role player for Team USA as opposed to filling the go-to scorer role he’s become accustomed to playing in Chicago.
Lillard had the following things to say regarding his Team USA teammate:
"It was fun to see a player of his type of ability embrace that role. Because he was so good at it. You don’t have the responsibility of scoring and doing all these things, so he was flying around defensively, catching lobs, blocking shots, hitting open threes."
If Chicago is open to trading their superstar shooting guard, Portland would make a lot of sense as a suitor. LaVine is a two-time NBA All-Star. Over the past four seasons, he’s averaged 25.5 points per game.
At age 28, he has more experience and is more developed than Simons. While it wouldn’t fix the Blazers’ defensive issues, the tandem of Lillard and LaVine might be enough to keep Dame content, as well as give them a chance at a possible playoff run.
Blazers’ draft pick situation with the Bulls
Suppose the Blazers were to make a blockbuster trade for a superstar. In that case, they’d likely have to negotiate with the Bulls regardless, because Portland owes Chicago a lottery-protected first-round pick that has those protections through 2028.
Because of the Stepien rule that states a team can’t go two consecutive seasons without a first-round pick, the Blazers flexibility is extremely limited until they can strike a deal to lift the restrictions with the Bulls.
One possible solution would be giving the Bulls the Knicks’ first-round pick in this year’s draft, which the Blazers now have the rights to after trading Josh Hart to New York at this past year’s trade deadline.
Regardless of how it gets sorted out, Portland will likely have to negotiate with Chicago if they want to make a significant trade this off-season.