The Portland Trail Blazers have a little more offseason clarity following the NBA Draft Lottery.
General manager Joe Cronin has the third overall pick in the 2023 draft to work with, and by all accounts, that selection is highly available via trade.
Per Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report, the organization sent an email to all its season ticketholders saying, in part:
“We’ve secured the #3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Our Basketball Ops team is working behind the scenes to improve our roster and build a team ready to compete alongside Damian Lillard, who had his best season to date last year. Stay tuned, this offseason is sure to be exciting!”
Couple that with Lillard’s comments at the conclusion of the 2022-23 regular season:
“I don’t have much of an appetite for bringing in guys two and three years away from really going after it. This is not a secret. I want a chance to go for it. And if the route is to do that, then that’s not my route.”
Put the two together, and it appears almost certain that pick will be exchanged for a difference-making veteran who could help Dame make a legitimate playoff push in 2023-24. The million dollar offseason question now becomes, “Which player is it?”
“Realistic” trade proposal has the Blazers landing a Lillard co-star
Shortly after Tuesday’s draft lottery, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report published a story with what he deemed to be realistic post-lottery trades to find new homes for four superstars.
The proposal he offered for Toronto’s Pascal Siakam included Portland (get used to that combination). Buckley’s trade idea was:
Blazers receive: Pascal Siakam
Raptors receive: Anfernee Simons, No. 3 pick, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson
If Portland can land Siakam without giving up Shaedon Sharpe, the organization should be jumping up and down and skipping through the halls of Moda Center. Siakam is a two-time All-NBA forward who averaged 24.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists as the Raptors’ default go-to scorer last season.
He has experience as the second-best player on a championship team after helping the Raptors win a title with Kawhi Leonard in 2019 and is a legitimate two-way star forward. Put him next to Jerami Grant and the Blazers would have two long, athletic, versatile players who can get buckets and help cover up some of Lillard’s defensive weaknesses at the same time.
For their troubles, Toronto gets a young guard in Simons who fits the team’s current timeline and can take more of a lead role without Lillard, as well as a top-three pick to add to what would be a core of Simons, Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby – or more picks/young players if Anunoby is dealt.
Landing Siakam while keeping Sharpe would be a win for Portland and help set the foundation for an offseason retool that could help the Blazers make that seemingly elusive playoff push.