Here’s the latest Portland Trail Blazers news after an in-season tournament loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, including what that means for the Blazers’ tourney title hopes, a Shaedon Sharpe franchise milestone and a peek at Jerami Grant’s potential trade value.
Trail Blazers’ NBA In-Season Tournament championship chances all but gone
Portland’s shot at winning the league’s inaugural in-season tournament was a long one, but after a 107-95 drubbing by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s been just about erased.
Teams advance past group play and into the knockout stages by either A, winning their group, or B, earning the one wild-card spot allotted to each conference. The loss to the Lakers officially ended the Blazers chances at winning their group, and their 1-2 record in group play has them nine places back of the wild-card spot with only one game left.
Too bad tanking the in-season tournament doesn’t give a team an extra boost toward earning the No. 1 draft pick.
Shaedon Sharpe is already breaking Portland franchise records
Shaedon Sharpe’s dramatic improvements from year one to year two are being stifled as opposing defenses build gameplans around him. That’s not surprising for a 20-year-old with fewer than 100 NBA games under his belt.
Still, Sharpe’s potential as a future superstar is clear to anyone paying attention to the Blazers. Now, that potential, and the jump he’s made in his sophomore season, is quantifiable as he broke Portland’s franchise record for the youngest player to reach 1,000 points.
Here’s to hoping Shaedon becomes a better player than the other two on that list.
Can we already gauge Jerami Grant’s trade value?
The Trail Blazers are 3-9 in their first 12 games in 2023-24 and will likely continue to struggle for the entirety of the season. Jerami Grant is a proven veteran who can help a team win games and has been Portland’s best player through the first three weeks of the season.
Logically, it follows that the Blazers would at least look into flipping Grant for extra draft capital, cap space or young players once he’s available to be dealt after Jan. 15. But what could Portland expect to get in return for a 29-year-old who just signed a five-year, $160 million contract?
There may be a comparison for general manager Joe Cronin to go off of.
The Chicago Bulls are open to moving Zach LaVine, and it seems like he should have some suitors – this despite being him in the first year of a five-year, $215 million deal. (Both Grant and LaVine have player options in the last year of their contracts, but given the whopping amount of money they’re owed, will likely exercise them.)
Grant may not be as physically talented as LaVine or as prolific of a scorer, but he’s a high-level role player who has shown he’s willing to play as a third option and with a lower usage rate. Despite his contract, which admittedly limits his trade value, Grant is the type of player any team looking for that extra piece to put them over the championship hump would be interested in.
His injury history is also far, far shorter than LaVine’s.
It’s worth observing the return package the Bulls get whenever they are able to trade their star guard, because it should be similar to what the Blazers could get for Grant if they decide to deal him at this year’s trade deadline.