The Portland Trail Blazers have several options, but no clear solutions, as they approach the 2022 NBA Draft. They hold the 7th overall pick, but also face huge roster holes and a need to win now in order to restore the upward arc for the franchise and its superstar, Damian Lillard.
Guesses abound as to the future course of the team, particularly when it comes to utilizing their draft pick. Will they use it to draft an NBA-ready rookie? Might they take a flyer on an unproven franchise-changer? Or do they trade the pick for prepackaged veteran help?
Today Jason Quick of The Athletic compiled a laundry list of possibilities in an omnibus article [subscription required]. He didn’t break new ground, but he did amass past quotes from General Manager Joe Cronin, parsing them out to set up potential future actions.
One of those possibilities is trading the pick. Quick did not name names, but suggested that making a deal for an opposing player is not only in Cronin’s wheelhouse, but that he’s actually moved on such trades before.
The ability to find a trade partner and execute a trade is where it becomes interesting regarding Cronin. One thing I’m not sure people understand about him is he is not some rube when it comes to orchestrating a trade. As Cronin explained to me in December, former GM Neil Olshey empowered him behind the scenes.
“There are certain people you have relationships with around the league, people you know who you can work with,” Cronin said. “So you talk about ideas, and as those conversations start, if they got to a certain point, I would connect with Neil (and say), ‘Hey, Neil, I talked to Team X, and there might be something with this guy, or that guy.’ Then Neil would say, ‘Go back to them; let’s ask if they will do this …’”
“So, have I done a deal by myself? No. But we never do it by ourselves,” Cronin said in December. “We are constantly talking and working together. But have I been a point man? Definitely. Many times.”
Quick also suggested that Cronin might be a risk-taker. He tabbed high school phenom Shaedon Sharpe as a high-ceiling, high-risk possibility.
Finally, Quick speculated that the simple route—drafting the best player available—was also a possibility. He quoted Cronin saying that position and duplication matters less than simply acquiring the most talented player on the board.
“If there is a two guard that is head and shoulders above the other positions, I’m taking the two guard, then (figuring) it out,” Cronin said. “But the talent part, I can’t dismiss to be able to compete at the level we want to compete at.”
Quick also quoted Cronin saying the talent depth in the upcoming draft is “intriguing”.