August 12, 2022

It’s NBA gossip season and for the first time in a long time, the Portland Trail Blazers are appearing in tantalizing tweets and podcasts posted by a slew of NBA insiders.

Over the past decade, the Neil Olshey-led Blazers have steered an extremely tight ship when it comes to trade publicity during times of free agency and trade. The few rumors mentioned during this period seemed almost expertly curated, delivered through the same regular sources.

Things have changed. Last week the Blazers were linked with Bradley Beal, Jerami Grant, Zach Lavine, Miles Bridges, OG Anunoby, Obi Toppin, Deandre Ayton and John Collins.

Courtesy of Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

League sources say the Blazers are exploring veteran trades that can help Damian Lillard get the team back to the playoffs.

Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine are potential targets, sources say. Lillard befriended Beal through his experience with Team USA, and the Wizards star has a player option for next season.

Sources say another player to keep in mind is Hornets forward Miles Bridges. Pistons forward Jerami Grant is often mentioned as a target for the Blazers, but the same logic applies for bridges.

Another player frequently mentioned as being on Portland’s radar is Atlanta’s John Collins, who is a lob threat who could offer more defensive versatility than Jusuf Nurkic.

Later, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer added more fuel to the Collins fire, getting into the pieces he might take to close the deal.

“Someone told me today that if Portland offered Atlanta the seventh pick, they thought they’d do it right away. I think there’s a way to get away with that deal. Eric Bledsoe and that $3.99 million guaranteed It’s an executive I’ve been told about something to watch I don’t know if it’s been discussed I want to be clear but it’s something that people have told me that something has a very high probability.

We know most of those names won’t end up in Portland, but it’ll be interesting to see if this more open narrative helps the Blazers in the long run. The argument of rumors suggests very little downside while actually helping a team curry favor with players’ agents who are trying to get their clients the best possible deal in the best possible situation.

And while there’s no evidence that Cronin is somehow more active in trades and transactions than his predecessor, the increase in scuttlebuts at least suggests that Portland is “actively” trying to improve, which rarely occurred under previous administration.

There are real assets in the bag

Whether or not Cronin has a more open view of sharing his talks across the NBA universe, he’s actually created a slew of options for this franchise through tangible assets raised at the February trade deadline.

As a result, these moves may have indirectly caused experts outside the organization to view Portland as movers and shakers, inserting the team into possible deals based solely on the evidence they now have.

The moves in question were decried by many Portland fans at the time. In isolation, of course, the decision to part ways with CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, Norman Powell, Larry Nance Jr and Tony Snell, to bring back future first-round pick Josh Hart, a matter of irrelevant seconds and names might have been considered a miserable return. But you can’t look at these offers in isolation. You have to watch what they end up bringing in, not necessarily this summer, but maybe next trade deadline and the offseason after that.

The Blazers actually have the ability to clear enough space this offseason to make room for another max contract, hence the discussion surrounding the possibility of Beal and Lavine. But that’s probably not the most responsible approach Cronin could take, as it would likely starve the team of assets and tie the majority of its salary to a few players, diminishing the ability to improve the roster across the board. line – sound familiar?

More realistically and thanks to those February deadline deals, Cronin can consider his options. The Blazers own a $20.8 million trade exception from the McCollum deal, a $6.5 million exception from the Covington and Powell deal, and a $3.2 million exception collected in the trade from Joe Ingles. They’re also likely claiming the full mid-tier exception at $10.3m and can actually use the $4.04m semi-annual exception, which the former cash-strapped front office didn’t. used last year given its proximity to luxury tax.

At the top of the trump pile is the team’s seventh pick in the June 23 draft. This combined with the 2025 Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick and a host of second-round picks, including those from the Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Pelicans, the Blazers can now be inserted in conversations from which they were previously banned.

These picks can be used or combined with other assets and players to bring back important players. And so with this financial flexibility and asset accumulation combined with the presence of Damian Lillard on the roster, options are open to the Blazers that are probably closed to 90% of their opponents.

Sure, some teams have cap space and picks, but don’t have the pieces in place for it to make sense. While others have otherworldly talent but are crippled by a lack of cap space, possessing none or only a few less appealing draft picks.

Conclusion

Don’t be surprised if rumors continue to surface over the next few weeks as the Blazers prepare for the NBA draft and then free agency at the end of June 30. Although some may disagree – vehemently in some cases – it’s an exciting time. a Portland fan.

While Cronin served under Olshey throughout the former actor’s tenure in Portland, the current front office boss seems to have differing feelings and attitudes when it comes to the process of building public and private a team to face. Let’s just hope this prospect speeds up the re-equipment of the Blazers in time to continue using the unique skills that Damian Lillard poses while at the peak of his powers.