3 Trail Blazers who earned untouchable status, 2 who should be cut loose this summer

A trio of players proved they belong in Portland for the long haul. Two more, not so much.
Deandre Ayton (left), Portland Trail Blazers
Deandre Ayton (left), Portland Trail Blazers / Soobum Im/GettyImages
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Outside of a core group, the rosters of rebuilding NBA squads like the Trail Blazers are generally fluid. Decision-makers treat the fringes like spaghetti noodles; throw some players at the wall and see who sticks.

Twenty-two guys have come and gone and made appearances for Portland this season, including some names that have probably been long forgotten: Skylar Mays, Taze Moore and Ish Wainright, to name a few. But when front offices strike gold in unexpected places - late in the second round of the draft or the final stretch of the trade deadline, for example - it can be a game-changer.

Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin has found at least two diamonds in the rough that way, potentially more. But he's also taken some gambles that haven't paid off, and he might need to cut bait and find a way to move on this offseason to clear cap space and roster spots.

Here are three players Cronin brought in who earned untouchable status this season and a pair of others who should prepare to say their goodbyes to Rip City.

3 Trail Blazers who played their way onto next season's roster

Dalano Banton

An argument could be made that acquiring Banton at the trade deadline is Cronin's crowning achievement to date. All he sent to the Boston Celtics in exchange for the 6-foot-9 point guard was a top-55 protected 2027 second-round pick swap - oh, and Portland got $3 million in cash for its trouble.

With more playing time and freedom to let fly, Banton has gone from end-of-bench afterthought to a lock to make Portland's roster in 2024-25.

The 24-year-old - who scored 3.7 points per game across 95 games in his first two NBA seasons - is averaging 16.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 27 games with the Blazers. He has a team option for next season that Portland will certainly pick up and he'll get a chance to prove he's not just a tanking season all-star.