The Portland Trail Blazers had a 10.5 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, but taking the fifth-best odds at that selection and moving up to No. 3 will have its benefits.
Benefits that, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (subscription required), will pay off in the short term rather than the long term.
Trail Blazers expected to “explore the kind of veteran help” that would assist Lillard in pushing for a title in Portland
In a piece published early the morning following the lottery, Lowe states, “The Blazers moving up from No. 5 to No. 3 raised eyebrows all over the league right away. The Blazers could of course keep that pick, but rival executives expect them to explore the kind of veteran help that pick — plus other players — might fetch for Damian Lillard.”
Lowe goes on to say that the third pick by itself won’t bring back the kind of star the Blazers need to compete next season; but pair it with Anfernee Simons, and Portland might have the makings of a legitimate trade package.
Lillard said immediately following the 2022-23 season that he’s not interested in bringing in more young players who are two or three years away from helping the Blazers compete.
That would mean Portland can trade Lillard and keep the pick or trade the pick and keep Lillard. According to Lowe and members of other NBA front offices, the franchise is choosing the latter.