Blazers Offseason Takeaways: Should Portland move on from Deandre Ayton?

With the buzz from the 2024 NBA Draft settling down, the Blazers' plans are becoming clearer.
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament   - National Championship
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - National Championship / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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Barring another trade, the Portland Trail Blazers seem to be done adding pieces to their roster this offseason. Recently, they brought back Dalano Banton's player option for the 2024-25 season. Banton is a solid player and will bolster their backcourt depth. However, the most significant splash Portland made so far this offseason was on Day 1 of the 2024 NBA Draft, where they traded the Washington Wizads for Deni Avdija and selected UConn center Donovan Clingan No. 7 overall.

1. Blazers not sold on "DominAyton" as long-term center

The Trail Blazers' selection of Clingan could signify that they are ready to move off of starting center Deandre Ayton. The former Suns big man had a tumultuous first season in Portland. He struggled to start the year and dealt with injuries but went on a statistical rampage in the closing months of the NBA season, averaging 22.7 points and 12.5 rebounds per game following the All-Star break.

While the Clingan selection certainly doesn't send a positive message to Ayton, it might not be as clear-cut as we think. The hope is that Clingan will be an elite starting-quality big man in the NBA, but as with any prospect, success is not guaranteed. The potential impact of Clingan's role on the team is significant. Still, it wouldn't be surprising if the Blazers go into the season with plans to have Clingan come off the bench to ease him into the league.

Even though the Blazers are incredibly high on Clingan, they still seem like what they have in Ayton and are more than open to him asserting himself as a key player on this team. Portland has done a great job of stockpiling young assets and doesn't have to rush to figure out their roster at this point in their rebuild. More than anything, the Blazers are in a transitional phase where they hope to let the cream of the crop rise to the top rather than worrying about stepping on anyone's toes. It'll be on Ayton to decide whether he's up for the challenge.