For what seems like the first time in years, the Portland Trail Blazers possess the combination of talent and draft capital to make a seismic trade this off-season.
Should the Blazers choose to go all-in with big moves to support franchise star Damian Lillard, other teams chasing star power may have difficulty beating Portland’s offer if it involves the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft, and one or both of Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe.
That’s how James Edwards of The Athletic views it. In a recent piece (subscription required), Edwards and two other writers drafted the NBA teams best positioned to trade for a star this off-season based on the assets at their disposal. Edwards selected Portland with the third pick in the exercise, just after the Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 1) and Orlando Magic (No. 2).
While I’m in the camp of the Trail Blazers trading Lillard and completely rebuilding around the No. 3 pick, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons, I’m not sure that’s the route Portland will take. If the goal remains to build a contender around Lillard, then the No. 3 pick, Sharpe and Simons comprise a very juicy offer that Portland can float to teams in hopes of landing a second legitimate star.
It should be worth noting that in the draft, which saw 15 teams taken off the board, the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns were not selected. Both teams popped up in pieces this week as potential suitors for Lillard, but as this article underscores and others have noted, those scenarios don’t appear feasible beyond daydreaming.
The Brooklyn Nets, another popular hypothetical Dame destination, came in at No. 6 on the list. Lillard said if he were to part ways with Portland, the Nets would be a team he would want to join. The Nets can dangle eight first-round picks over the negotiation table, young scorer Cam Thomas and some expiring contracts. The piece listed forward Mikal Bridges as “untradeable.”
Stephen A. Smith’s tiresome dream for Lillard, the New York Knicks, were selected with the No. 10 pick in the exercise. This off-season the Knicks can trade eight first-round picks and offer young talent in RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and Quentin Grimes. The piece listed guard Jalen Brunson as “untradeable.”