Why Jan. 15 is an important date for the Trail Blazers on the NBA calendar

Jan. 15 marks a crucial date for Portland GM Joe Cronin to start making some important roster decisions.

Jerami Grant, Portland Trail Blazers
Jerami Grant, Portland Trail Blazers / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages
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This year's Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline should seem like a breeze to Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin. There's no pressure to upgrade the roster around Damian Lillard. There's no worrying about Lillard leaving after the season if the team doesn't make a postseason run.

Cronin and the Blazers front office, along with head coach Chauncey Billups, can sit back and let the market dictate whether or not they need to make a move. Malcolm Brogdon is the most obvious trade candidate, but there's no urgency to move him in the next few weeks. There's no urgency to trade Jerami Grant or Matisse Thybulle, either.

If the Trail Blazers don't receive what they feel is fair value for any of their veterans, they don't need to make a trade. The goal of this season is player development, and young franchise cornerstones such as Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons are showing improvement.

At the same time, the Blazers' record is poor enough that they should be in the running for a top-5 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. The fact that Portland owns the Golden State Warriors' top-4 protected first-round pick that could turn into another lottery selection is the cherry on top of the sundae.

If Cronin does decide to make a trade, though, Jan. 15 is a key date to remember.

A small group of NBA players, including 2 Trail Blazers, are available to be traded after Jan. 15

Luke Adams of HoopsHype - a site that does a fantastic job making complicated NBA things sound simple - breaks down the machinations of the rule like this:

"There’s also a small subset of free agent signees whose trade ineligibility lasts for an extra month. These players all meet a specific set of criteria: Not only did they re-sign with their previous team this offseason, but they got a raise of at least 20%, their salary is worth more than the minimum, and their team was over the cap, using Bird or Early Bird rights to sign them."

Luke Adams, HoopsHype

Portland can trade Jerami Grant, Matisse Thybulle after Jan. 15

Grant and Thybulle - two of the Blazers' most valuable trade assets - cannot be dealt until Jan. 15.

Whether or not this makes it more difficult for Cronin to find a deal for either is to be determined, and as mentioned above, there's no rush to move either of them, anyway.

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