With a month away from the start of training camp for the 2022-23 NBA season, the Portland Trail Blazers’ roster appears to be solidified for opening day. But the dog days of the NBA offseason are prime time for writers and fans to pitch trade ideas and roster reimagining (Kevin Durant had a shot at going to everybody this year).
In a recent article, Bleacher Report writer Zach Buckley suggested trades all 30 teams could pull off before training camp. His idea for Portland: target Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kenrich Williams.
In this scenario, the price would require second-year guard Keon Johnson and a 2024 second round pick. Buckley said the trade makes sense for Portland because of Williams’ defensive versatility and his skills are ready to produce now, as opposed to the more raw Johnson.
The Trail Blazers are attempting to retool around 32-year-old centerpiece Damian Lillard on the fly, but they have a lot of young, unproven talent for a club hoping to compete for at least a playoff spot next season.
Flipping a prospect like Johnson and a pick for a (relatively) established commodity like Williams isn’t exactly a needle-mover, but it would at least make this roster more reliable.
The 27-year-old seems a touch too experienced for OKC, but he could hit the ground running in Portland. He’s an energizing role player who can defend multiple positions and consistently make the smart, simple reads. If his three-ball drops, he could handle a sizable role for a win-now club.
While Williams’ hustle, smarts and defensive ability fit the ideal player mold for head coach Chauncey Billups’ system, it’s unlikely general manager Joe Cronin pulls the trigger on this deal. Cronin has admitted the roster is an unbalanced product, but the biggest gap is in the center rotation. Trading Johnson would help undo a logjam at the guard spots, but obtaining Williams would create new crowding in the forward rotation. Portland likely wants to reserve a majority of its forward minutes for Nassir Little, Josh Hart, Gary Payton II and Jerami Grant. Then the Blazers can use the leftovers for the development of Trendon Watford and Jabari Walker, and plug in veteran Justise Winslow where needed. Williams could help, but not at the level worth taking time away from those guys.
Plus, Johnson is one of Portland’s more valuable, young trade chips. Saving him to potentially use in a more significant trade at February’s trade deadline is the smarter move.
But what do you think, Rip City? Should the Blazers make a trade for Kenrich Williams?