The biggest loser of Trail Blazers drafting Donovan Clingan is obvious

Clingan falling to the Blazers at No. 7 could have some ramifications for one particular player.
2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Portland Trail Blazers landed a draft day steal with UConn center Donovan Clingan falling all the way to No. 7. However, it leaves many to question Deandre Ayton's long-term fit with the Blazers, despite only being with Portland for one season.

Clingan may lead to Ayton's eventual fallout in Portland

Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report doesn't believe it will significantly impact the Blazers' short-term plans with Ayton.

"I don't think the Blazers are actively looking to move off of Ayton, even if they take a center in the first round. After a shaky start to the season, he turned a corner after the All-Star break and was consistently productive. He has two years left on his contract, so they will eventually have to make a decision about whether he's their long-term starting center, but they're comfortable moving forward with him for now."

Sean Highkin

He may not be moved this summer due to the Clingan selection, especially now that they are under the luxury tax following the trade for Washington's Deni Avdija. However, the fact that the Blazers viewed Clingan so highly throughout this entire draft process has to say something about how they feel about Ayton as their long-term center.

Ayton was certainly productive in his first season with Portland, especially toward the end of the season, as Highkin mentioned. Ayton averaged 16.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.0 steals per game on 57/10/82 shooting splits this season.

While he's a better scorer and more of an offensive threat than Clingan, it's apparent that the UConn center is the more prominent paint presence defensively. Highkin also mentions in his article that opponents shot 70.8 percent at the rim last season, which was the second-worst in the league behind the Wizards. Clingan should significantly help in that department.

Additionally, Ayton is set to make $34 million in the 2024-25 season, while Clingan is obviously on his rookie deal. There isn't much difference from an on-court impact standpoint between the two centers to make the salary difference worth it to keep Ayton. The Blazers now have four centers on their roster: Ayton, Clingan, Robert Williams III, and Duop Reath. It seems like something has to give eventually, and the fallout from Portland's draft day steal will be something to monitor this offseason.