Although the rumors swirled, the Portland Trail Blazers were unable to trade their third overall pick for an impactful veteran player. When they chose to draft Scoot Henderson with that pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, they added a potential game-changer but are left with a surplus of talented guards.
Now, the franchise must determine its future direction: trade Damian Lillard and initiate a rebuild around their young guards or trade one of their young guards, such as Anfernee Simons or Shaedon Sharpe, to build a contending team around Lillard.
In this post, we will explore two free agent options for the Blazers if they aim to contend, and one option if Lillard requests a trade and they decide to rebuild.
Note: The Blazers don’t have enough cap space to sign a star player but can explore various avenues such as utilizing exceptions, such as the full mid-level exception (MLE) ($12.2 million), minimum contracts, or the bi-annual exception ($4.5 million).
Contending free agent option No. 1: Jerami Grant
If the Blazers plan to contend, re-signing power forward Jerami Grant is crucial. Grant, an unrestricted free agent, is coming off an impressive season and has been a strong scorer throughout his career. Playing alongside Lillard in Portland, Grant’s efficiency soared, making him an invaluable asset.
Last season, he averaged an impressive 20.5 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting from the field and 40.1 percent from beyond the arc. Grant’s ability to score efficiently from all areas of the court makes him a valuable offensive weapon.
Whether it’s attacking the rim with his athleticism, knocking down mid-range jumpers, or connecting on 3-pointers, Grant’s offensive repertoire provides Lillard with a reliable scoring partner.
Moreover, Grant’s presence alleviates some of the offensive burden on Lillard, allowing him to operate with more space and create opportunities for his teammates.
Another aspect of Grant’s game that makes him an ideal fit for the Blazers is his defensive prowess. He has established himself as a versatile defender, capable of guarding multiple positions effectively. Grant’s length, athleticism, and high motor allow him to disrupt opponents and provide consistent defensive contributions.
To retain Lillard’s commitment to the team, the Blazers must bring Grant back. While it may come at a high cost, the Blazers could offer him a contract of five years and $150 million. Retaining Grant’s scoring prowess and All-Star potential is the first step to keeping Lillard happy and putting a potential contender on the court.