The Portland Trail Blazers are no longer straddling the line between contending and rebuilding after star point guard Damian Lillard officially requested a trade. With the inevitable trade looming, the Blazers have a lot of decisions to make regarding how to go about their rebuilding phase.
What are the next steps Portland’s front office should take to jumpstart an official rebuild in the aftermath of Lillard’s departure?
Step No. 1: Determine whether to stock up on more draft picks
This first crucial step depends on what exactly the Lillard trade is. If the Blazers receive another promising guard, such as Tyler Herro or Tyrese Maxey, it would make sense to flip the young asset for future draft picks. Maxey, Herro or someone similar isn’t a great fit for Portland’s roster that is already loaded with talented guards.
In that case, the organization should take a chance to reset on its own terms with future picks it can use to better address positional needs and weaknesses. Portland has a great front office for evaluating draft prospects, headlined by assistant general manager Mike Schmitz, who has been a draft analyst for the majority of his career working for companies including ESPN and DraftExpress.com.
However, if the package includes young talent that fits the Blazers’ roster better, such as Miami’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic, they should hold onto them.
In all likelihood, the trade package will include a combination of young players, draft picks and salary fillers. The first step in the rebuilding process after trading Lillard will be siphoning through the received assets to determine which ones the Portland views as long-term pieces and roster fits.
Ideally, the salary fillers will also be players that Portland can flip for more draft picks.