The Portland Trail Blazers will likely not be major players in the NBA Draft or NBA Free Agency, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be involved at all. Portland owns the No. 24 pick in the upcoming June 21 draft, and they have a slew of contributors — the main one being Jusuf Nurkic — who are upcoming free agents. The draft and free agency provide an avenue for change, big or small, and often at the center of arguably the year’s busiest time is Adrian Wojnarowski. The longtime insider with connections all around the league spoke with Adam Caparell of Complex about being in the thick of rumor season.
Woj first reflected on the now-happening NBA Combine in Chicago. While it’s not a main event, it’s made some strides and is only growing:
It’s sort of also the unofficial beginning of free agency and the trades that you often see prior to the draft and during because you have all the GMs here. And part of our focus is going to be acknowledging that and reporting, and not just in a vacuum because everybody’s draft is in context of what they have coming a week later in free agency, so decisions are made with that in mind.
He then transitioned into how this part of the season is full of rumors ahead of the draft:
You have executives are all here together. They’re talking. The agents are talking with teams. You just start to get conversations sparked. What’s interesting with trade talks, some of them can be a continuation where teams have been talking for a year, 18 months about potential deals. Sometimes one side isn’t quite ready yet and sometimes they pick up where they left off. So conversations I may have been aware of at the trade deadline may pick up here.
And Woj also talked about how deals on draft night, instead of the picks themselves, can prove to be more interesting:
To me, the bigger thing on draft night has always been the trades and deals. You look back at the draft night deals, Portland moving up to get Zach Collins and Utah moving up to get Donovan Mitchell, were obviously impactful. And prior to the daft, the [Markelle] Fultz, [Jayson] Tatum Boston-Philly trade. That’s always more interesting to me than the picks, but it’s all part of that night and it’s taken on a life of its own over the years.
You can read the rest of Woj’s interview with Caparell here, where he expands more on the combine’s rising significance and storylines across the league.