The Portland Trail Blazers aren’t serious contenders for Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton but may be eyeing Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort in a draft-pick trade. The news comes from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who threw in the rumor as part of a larger piece on the upcoming free agency decisions of Philadelphia 76ers superstar James Harden.
Fischer cites Portland’s affinity for Jusuf Nurkic and their desire for Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby before pivoting to the Thunder and Dort. The swap would require Portland to trade down in the 2022 NBA Draft, sending their 7th selection to Oklahoma City in exchange for Dort, unspecified players, and the 12th selection.
Portland does not appear to be a legitimate landing spot for restricted free agent Deandre Ayton, sources said. The Trail Blazers are expected to retain starting center Jusuf Nurkic, and they are prioritizing Toronto Raptors swingman OG Anunoby in any return for the No. 7 pick in next week’s draft, sources said. But there has been increasing talk about Portland potentially targeting the seventh selection to Oklahoma City for No. 12 and a package that could include Lu Dort.
The 6’3 wing just completed his third NBA season after joining the Thunder as an undrafted rookie in the 2019-20 season. He averaged 17.2 points for the Thunder last season in 51 apperances, shooting 40.4% from the floor and 33.2% from the three-point arc (taking 54% of his shots beyond the arc). Dort is known primarily for his defensive tenacity, and is forecast to become one of the better defenders in the league.
Dort is 23 years old. He is scheduled to earn $1.9 million on a non-guaranteed contract in the coming season, after which he will become an unrestricted free agent.