Trail Blazers immediate free agency move No. 3: Beat other teams to cheap rotation players
Even if Cronin pulls off a Green-Grant-Thybulle miracle, the Blazers will still have needs, the most significant of which would be size and depth in the frontcourt.
Perhaps signing Christian Wood with the $12.4 million mid-level exception would work, or maybe trying to grab players such as Bismack Biyombo, Thomas Bryant, or Cody Zeller on veteran minimum contracts would be an option.
Portland could also use a bigger point guard who’s solid defensively. Delon Wright would fit perfectly in the trade exception the Blazers got from trading Gary Payton II back to Golden State and would be an ideal option to fill that role. Whether Cronin would be willing to pull the trigger on that sort of deal remains to be seen.
Bargain-bin free agents who could help as a defensive-minded rotation guard include Patrick Beverley, George Hill, and Frank Ntilikina. None of those players would be able to fill significant minutes or roles, but the majority of playing time will go to Lillard, Henderson, Simons (if he’s still around), and Sharpe, anyway.
One of these cheap free agent point guards would bring a different element to the roster for head coach Chauncey Billups to utilize.
It would be important for Cronin, however, to move quickly and sign this level of free agent before other teams with the same idea snatch them up first.
The first few days and weeks of free agency could mean the difference between keeping Lillard and being competitive or trading him to enter a complete rebuild. If the goal really is to build a team around Dame – which Cronin has said ad nauseum – this is the time for him to follow through.