Blazers News: Lillard warned, roster spot opened, early power rankings

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

There was an interesting development after a lack of news in the Damian Lillard trade saga, the Trail Blazers cleared a roster spot (any reason why?) and Portland landed in a … not great spot in ESPN’s offseason power rankings. Here’s the latest Blazers news.

Damian Lillard, agent sent warning from NBA league office

As it turns out, the NBA was conducting a pretty thorough investigation of the Lillard trade situation after Dame’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, said publicly that his client wouldn’t suit up for any team other than the Miami Heat.

Via The Athletic (subscription required), part of the league’s memo that was sent to all 30 teams “advised Lillard and Goodwin that any future comments ‘suggesting Lillard will not fully perform the services called for under his player contract in the event of a trade’ will be subject to discipline, as will be any similar comments by players or agents moving forward.”

What does this mean for the Blazers? Likely not a whole lot. General manager Joe Cronin may be hoping Lillard decides to stay in Portland and maybe this helps that situation, or perhaps it allows him to negotiate with other teams now that the entire league knows Lillard has to play if they acquire him.

Blazers waive Jeenathan Williams

Portland waived Williams before his salary for the 2023-24 season was guaranteed. It’s not a headline-grabbing move, but it does create an extra open roster spot – in case, you know, a certain player is traded and multiple players come back to Portland.

Williams put up good numbers in the G League last season and then joined the Blazers during their tank stretch at the end of the year. He averaged 10.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists with 62/38/67 shooting splits in five games.

The Trail Blazers now have 12 of 15 roster spots filled with Ibou Badji and John Butler Jr. on two-way contracts.

Portland ranks near the bottom in ESPN’s offseason power rankings

Well, at least the Trail Blazers are near the bottom and not at the bottom of ESPN’s power rankings at the end of July.

Portland lands at No. 28 in front of the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons. Not great company. The story mentions the Blazers re-signing Jerami Grant, matching the Dallas Mavericks’ offer sheet for Matisse Thybulle and the turning over of the franchise keys from Lillard to Scoot Henderson.

It may not be a great season in Rip City, but it’s not impossible Portland surprises some people and ends up pushing for a postseason spot, even if it’s just for a play-in game. Grant, Thybulle, Henderson, Sharpe and Anfernee Simons is a talented group of five and, when healthy, Jusuf Nurkic is an above-average NBA center.

They may not be flush with talent, but the Blazers aren’t completely devoid of it, either.

dark. Next. 3 Reasons Blazers could be surprise postseason contenders