2. Drafting Kris Murray with the 23rd overall pick
The Trail Blazers selected Iowa's Kris Murray with the 23rd pick in the 2023 draft, their second first-round selection. Murray was an older prospect (23 years old) who had played three seasons in the Big Ten, starting 29 games as a junior. He averaged 20 points and 8 rebounds during his final season with the Hawkeyes.
He was scouted as a pro-ready prospect with a strong 6-foot-8 frame built to hold up defensively in the NBA at either forward spot. Assuming his 3-point shooting could inch up a few percentage points - he shot almost 35 percent during his college career - he would be ready to play and help Portland's bench unit on day one.
So far, none of that has happened. Murray has only played in 10 games and is averaging fewer than 9 minutes per. He's scoring a whopping 1.8 points a night to go along with 0.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 0.5 steals.
Is it too early to write off a rookie after 15 games? Probably. Is it worrisome that a first-round pick can barely get off the bench for an openly tanking team focused on player development and has dealt with a bunch of injuries? Very.
3. Signing Jerami Grant to an unnecessarily massive contract
Jerami Grant has been the Blazers' best player this season. That's an essential qualifier. He's 22nd in the league in scoring since the beginning of November and is proving his 3-point stroke is no fluke after last season's career-high; he's connecting on 46.2 percent of his 7.1 attempts per game.
In a vacuum, that would make Grant an excellent candidate for Cronin to flip at this year's trade deadline to add more assets to Portland's rebuild. What contending team couldn't use a willing role player who can score like a No. 1 option when called upon?
But we're not in a vacuum, and Grant is only in the first year of a massive new contract, one that makes him an incredibly overpaid role player rather than just an overqualified one. If the Blazers do want to trade their 29-year-old forward, that means they won't get fair value in return for a player averaging 22.8 points.
It was shocking to see the dollar amount next to Grant's name when the deal was first announced. It was a clear and obvious overpay. That will come back to bite Cronin if and when he wants to send his starting power forward elsewhere.