The Trail Blazers spent days before the 2022 trade deadline surgically removing Neil Olshee’s fingerprints from the roster. With Damian Lillard on the mend and Portland mired in the western quagmire, new general manager Joe Cronin, with Corleone’s ruthlessness, slaughtered much of the expensive supporting cast Olshey had acquired—first sending Robert Covington and Norm Powell to the Clippers, and later traded CJ McCollum to the Pelicans. Profits were modest at best – a couple of young players and a couple of picks. But it gave Cronin something close to a blank canvas to paint the rest of Lillard’s heyday.
However, Cronin’s first-punch looks fairly familiar to the one made by his predecessor: Just over 24 hours before Thursday’s NBA draft, Cronin reportedly agreed to trade a 2025 first-round pick (via Milwaukee) acquired in McCollum’s deal. to the Pistons on Jerami Grant. , a young veteran who fills a void but can’t change the big picture in Portland no matter what. who owns the team.
Grant, 28, is an all-around defensive forward that previous Blazers desperately needed. Two off-seasons ago, Olshey forked out two chooses Covington in the first round hoping to fill that hole. But as any blogger will tell you time and time again without even asking, Covington is more like a team defender than a stopper you can throw at the top of the league. Grant’s resume is more conscientious in this regard: in his last playoff run with the Nuggets, in the bubble, his most frequent cover was Kawhi Leonard, Donovan Mitchell and LeBron James. The Nuggets would reportedly match up with a three-year surprise, the $60 million he received from Detroit during the 2020 off-season, just to keep that defensive versatility. And while Grant’s attempt to expand his offensive play with the Pistons has produced only superficial results – he nearly doubled his scoring and chances average but did so with average efficiency on bad teams – he is a much more versatile attacking option than Covington. While Covington often resigns himself to taking a corner, waiting for an opportunity to catch and shoot, Grant can do it and also add some power to the Blazers’ offense.
However, the questions are twofold:
1. Are these upgrades worth it? additional $112 million over four years, the most that the Blazers can (and probably should) offer the Renewal Grant six months after the deal closes? Probably not, in a vacuum, but big wings defenders are getting as hard to come by as big wings, and if Grant can help give Portland at least some solid protection, after three straight years in the bottom five, Lillard has shown he can push that the team is very far away.
2. Is the Portland team with Grant noticeably better than the version Cronin traded six months ago? It’s a little more difficult.
In its current form, this is the core of Portland:
Start of something? pic.twitter.com/sR163yFFhS
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 22, 2022
So, Lillard, a short scoring defenseman, a quality defenseman mistaken for a small forward, and a defensively-minded forward? Looks pretty familiar! The Blazers have more financial flexibility than under the previous administration ($44 million not including luxury tax). Bobby Marks of ESPN), but Anferi Simons’ deal with limited free agency, as well as a possible new deal with Jusuf Nurkic (or his replacement) could eat that up pretty quickly.
The difference will likely come from the big prize for Cronin’s flurry of moves in February: no. 7th pick the Blazers acquired by riding Who does he play for the bonanza until the end of the regular season. However, there are no easy solutions here either.
No rookie will do much good next season, let alone a 19-year-old who hasn’t played a game in his first season like Schaedon Sharp, the current seventh pick. Ringer draft imitation. And it would be hard to ask Dame, approaching his 32-year season, to bide his time and see the bigger picture — or worse, buy his collaboration with an extension that could pay a 6-foot guard. a whopping $55 million at the age of 36; It’s easier for Steph Curry to trust an institution when there are two future Hall of Famers in the cavalry, rather than micro McCollum.
Perhaps it would make more sense for the Blazers to continue trading and trading no. 7 for another young veteran. Chris Haynes of Yahoo informed Portland are on the hunt for Toronto’s OG Anunoby on Wednesday, another sporty, defensive-focused big wing that has room to grow. But even Anunobi or a player of his age and skill probably won’t take Portland to the top tier in the West, which is expected to be loaded again next season, with the likes of Kawhi, Jamal Murray and Zion Williamson who is expected to be supported. quality teams that didn’t even make it to the second round.
Grant’s deal looks better than some of the moves made at the end of the Olsha era. But without a follow-up step with more gusto, he also arguably paved the way that would eventually lead the Blazers to similar results.