Step No. 2: Find a Jusuf Nurkic replacement
Nurkic very well may also be included in a trade package involving Lillard. If he’s not, this step will include trading away Nurkic to get off his contract as he doesn’t fit the team’s play style or new timeline.
General manager Joe Cronin should be pursuing a potential Nurkic replacement as part of any Lillard deal in the first place. Some possible options include Nic Claxton, Robert Williams III or Onyeka Okongwu as part of a potential three-way deal with the Heat.
However, if a Lillard deal gets done that doesn’t involve Portland receiving a long-term answer for the center position, then that should be one of the first agenda items to address. The Blazers have desperately searched for a versatile, modern-day center that can switch out onto the perimeter and guard multiple positions.
Portland’s new franchise pieces are all guards, so finding a new center to complement the new timeline is paramount.
If they don’t receive a center right away, this is also something the Blazers could address through the draft in upcoming years. They are in no rush to win right away and could end up using one of their likely many draft picks on a center that has the potential to fill that need they’ve been in search of.