4 Trail Blazers with something to prove heading toward training camp

Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Joe Cronin has a prove-it moment with the Damian Lillard trade heading into Blazers' training camp
Joe Cronin, Portland Trail Blazers General Manager (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images) /

Trail Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin

In December, it will be two calendar years that Portland has been under the watch of Cronin. He’s had two nearly full offseasons and one trade deadline to put his stamp on the Blazers’ roster. So far, his tenure has not been popular among Rip City fans.

Cronin repeatedly preached patience when it came to building a team that could help Lillard compete for a title. Some of his moves have panned out – drafting Sharpe, trading for Grant and getting a first-round pick that became Murray in exchange for Josh Hart, who was likely leaving after the season anyway.

Others – the Gary Payton II debacle – haven’t gone as planned.

What’s worse, the optics of failing to fulfill that promise to build a contender around Lillard – whether fact or not – that culminated in drafting his potential successor in Henderson and Dame finally asking to leave Portland have earned him no favors among the fan base.

Whatever Cronin decides to do when it comes to the inevitable Lillard trade, whether that’s tomorrow, before training camp, at the trade deadline or at any other point – will define his career as an NBA GM.

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If he hits a home run and the Blazers kick off a full rebuild with Henderson, Sharpe, Simons and a haul of assets from a Lillard trade, things will be rosy, or at least as rosy as possible. If whatever return he gets is underwhelming, though, and he misplays his hand, Cronin will have a serious amount of work to do – in Portland’s front office and in the court of public opinion.