Avdija trade signals different rebuilding approaches between Blazers and Wizards

Why did the Wizards decide to move on from Deni Avdija?
Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards
Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Deni Avdija recently had his introductory press conference as one of the newest members of the Portland Trail Blazers. Although only 23 years old, Avdija handled the questions like an NBA veteran would, with maturity and a good sense of how he fits into the Blazers' rebuilding process. He understands that trading Malcolm Brogdon and two first-round picks is a lot of assets to give up, and he seems eager to show Blazers fans why he was worth the move.

One of the most interesting takeaways from the press conference was when Avdija was asked how Washington's shift from seemingly having him as a focal point of their rebuild to trading him impacted him emotionally. Deni responded: "I think they really loved me. I've done a lot for the organization and for the city. It was just not the timeline. I did whatever I could and gave whatever I could on the floor. That's part of the business."

Traded Avdija says he didn't mesh with Wizards' rebuilding timeline

It was particularly interesting because both the Wizards and Blazers are in the early stages of rebuilding after trading away Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard. The Wizards are taking a more traditional approach as a rebuilding team, which is bottoming out and building almost entirely through the draft.

It's too early to tell, but both teams have had successful 2024 NBA Draft selections as of now. The Blazers had UConn center Donovan Clingan fall to No. 7, while the Wizards stockpiled prospects with a ton of potential, finding great value with Alex Sarr (No. 2), Carlton Carrington (No. 14 via Blazers), and Kyshawn George (No. 24 via Knicks).

Blazers GM Joe Cronin prioritizes proven players over draft capital

The Blazers are almost retooling rather than completely rebuilding, which Avdija may be alluding to when he says he's not part of the Wizards' timeline. General manager Joe Cronin seems to prioritize receiving players over draft capital. The Avdija trade wasn't the first instance, as the Blazers received multiple players in the Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday deals last offseason as well.

In some aspects, it makes sense to get guaranteed value in the form of more established players. This is especially true with the Avdija deal—he fits their rebuilding timeline, is on a very team-friendly contract, and the 2024 NBA Draft projects to be a weak class. Still, it goes to show how the two teams differ from each other when reconstructing their rosters.

However, Cronin may want to value draft picks more heavily in the upcoming 2025 NBA Draft. It's a promising draft class headlined by Duke's Cooper Flagg, who already stands out amongst the elite talents as part of the 2024 USA Basketball Men’s Select Team in Las Vegas.

Finding value in players like Advija is excellent and should help the Blazers rebuild their roster by adding a much-needed versatile wing. However, they still need a bonafide star talent to build around, and the easiest way to acquire a foundational piece is through the draft. It would be great to see the Blazers prioritize draft capital more in future trades.