The 2022 NBA trade is a week away. Blazer fans want change. Their calls for the split up of Portland’s backcourt are reverberating loud and clear. They want to see something besides the tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Nurk fever has broken, flared up again, and tamed. Robert Covington being traded is a foregone conclusion. The Blazers over abundance of guards has led to a roster outsized by opponents. There is no balance. Norman Powell or a suddenly hot Anfernee Simons could be on the way out.
Then again, fans might need to temper their expectations. Interim GM Joe Cronin interviewed with NBA.com and let on that while not focused on a Mr Gorbachev tear down that wall level of rebuild, the Blazers are open to change, and are looking at the bigger picture.
The Blazers won’t be quick to make deals just to make them. Cronin said Portland would thourougly vet all deals before making a decision, so they can make the right one. They are willing to wait for the right opportunity. (Cronin would be remiss not remember that was Neil Olshey’s downfall…sometimes you have to kill your darlings.)
They can’t wait too long as several of their players contracts are expiring such as Covington’s who has drawn interest from multiple teams. While earlier in the season the possibility of trading an expiring Nurkic was ambivalent, the Blazers according to Cronin seem set on re-signing him.
The idea seems to be to continue to rebuild around Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum who are in their prime, and Nurkic who is entering his prime. But, fans aren’t happy with continuing with a core that has been surrounded by varying casts of role players and seemingly failed to break through the ceiling, other than a western conference finals appearance two seasons ago.
Cronin claims the Blazers are looking into every path forward, and that they remain open minded about which is the best avenue to a successful future for the franchise. But, throughout the interview he kept refocusing the lense with three words: the bigger picture.
The plan seems to be to dictated by opportunity. If the right deal comes along the Blazers will make their move at the deadline whatever that may be. Don’t expect McCollum to be traded. He may be, it’s possible, but only if the Blazers can get fair value. That won’t be easy. McCollum has negative value because of his hefty contract and his excessive need for the ball to be in his hands often at the expense of his team. The Blazers aren’t going to move him for sake of doing something new. They aren’t afraid of holding on to him and waiting.
They will play the long game. They will do what makes sense value wise at the deadline. They will take their time bringing back Lillard. We might not seem him this season. The Blazers want him to heal completely. They will look to extend him and hope they haven’t seen the best of him yet. That he will come back universal soldier style and dominate.
The Blazers will look to resign Jusuf Nurkic. It will be risky with him being a unrestricted free agent, but it is a risk they are seemingly willing to take. They will continue to look for new role players to surround their golden trio with.
They believe they have enough talent to remain competitive without giving up their core. It looks like alot of the same-o, same-o. With Lillard out and the Injury bug depleting the roster, it seems the perfect time to take a big risk. A go all in move. But, it doesn’t look like that is in the cards because it isn’t part of the bigger picture.