The Trail Blazers spent the days leading up to the 2022 trade deadline surgically removing Neil Olshey’s fingerprints from the roster. With Damian Lillard on the mend and Portland in the back of the West, new GM Joe Cronin knocked out most of the expensive supporting cast that Olshey had acquired with ruthlessness at Corleone level, sending Robert Covington and Norm Powell to the Clippers first, and later dealing with CJ McCollum with the Pelicans. The gains were modest at best: a couple of young players and a couple of picks. But he provided Cronin with something like a blank canvas to chart the remaining years of Lillard’s heyday.
Still, Cronin’s first strike seems familiar enough to that made by his predecessor: just over 24 hours before Thursday’s NBA draft, Cronin reportedly agreed to trade the 2025 first-round pick (via Milwaukee) he acquired. in the McCollum deal with the Pistons for Jerami Grant, a young veteran who fills a void but may not change the big picture in Portland, regardless of who owns the team.
Grant, 28, is the kind of all-rounder forward with a defensive mindset that previous Blazers performances desperately needed. Two offseasons ago, Olshey forked Two first-round picks for Covington in hopes of filling that exact hole. But as any blogger will tell you, over and over, without even asking, Covington is more of a team defender than a stopper you can throw on the front wings of the league. Grant’s resume is more bona fide about it: in his last postseason with the Nuggets, in the bubble, his most frequent covers were Kawhi Leonard, Donovan Mitchell and LeBron James. The Nuggets reportedly equaled the three-year surprise, $ 60 million he received from Detroit in the 2020 off-season simply to maintain that internal defensive versatility. And while Grant’s offer to expand his offensive play with the Pistons only produced surface-level results – he nearly doubled his scoring average and opportunities, but did so with mediocre efficiency for bad teams. – is a much more versatile offensive option than Covington. While Covington is often resigned to the corner waiting for catch-and-shoot opportunities, Grant can do it and add some energy to the Blazers’ attack.
However, there are two questions:
1. Are these updates worth a? an additional $ 112 million over four years, the most Blazers can (and probably should) offer Grant on an extension six months after the deal is complete? Probably not, in a vacuum, but large defenders are becoming as hard to find as big wings, and if Grant can help give Portland a credible defense too, after three consecutive years in the top five, Lillard has shown that he is. to be able to push this team very far.
2. Is a Portland team with Grant significantly better than the version Cronin traded six months ago? This is a bit more complicated.
As it stands, this is the core of Portland:
So Lillard, a little scoring guard, a misinterpreted quality guard as a little striker and a defensive-minded striker? It looks familiar enough! The Blazers have greater financial flexibility than the previous administration ($ 44 million less than the luxury tax, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks), but Anferee Simons’ deal in limited freedom of action, as well as a possible new deal for Jusuf Nurkic (or a replacement), could wear it out pretty quickly.
The difference will likely come from the grand prize of Cronin’s flurry of moves in February: No. 7 choice, which the Blazers got by riding a godsend for Who He Play For until the end of the regular season. However, there are no easy solutions either.
No rookie will deliver very positive value next season, let alone a 19-year-old who hasn’t played a single game in his freshman season like Shaedon Sharpe, the current 7-inch pick. The Ringer mock draft. And it would be hard to ask Dame, ahead of her 32-year season, to wait for her moment and see the bigger picture or, worse, buy her partnership with an extension that could pay the 6-foot guard $ 2 well. 55 million at the age of 36; it’s easier for Steph Curry to trust the institution when the cavalry includes two future Hall of Famers, not a micro McCollum.
It might make more sense for Blazers to continue trading and trade no. 7 for another young veteran. Chris Haynes of Yahoo reported Wednesday Portland is pursuing Toronto’s OG Anunoby, another great athletic and defensive winger with room to grow. But even Anunoby, or a player of similar age and skill, likely won’t take Portland to the next level in a West that plans to be loaded again next season, with the likes of Kawhi, Jamal Murray and Zion Williamson expected to support teams. quality that have not even broken the second round.
Grant’s swap looks better value than some of the moves made towards the end of the Olshey era. But without a subsequent move with even more gusto, he may well have forged a path that will ultimately lead the Blazers to similar results.