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Cronin: Blazers Aiming to Keep Both Lillard And Henderson

Blazers plan to build around Lillard and Henderson.

2023 NBA Draft Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin believes Damian Lillard and rookie Scoot Henderson can co-exist together.

In the hours after the franchise selected the 19-year-old point guard with the third overall pick, Cronin doubled down on the move, two mans after claiming he was anxious to push all the franchise’s chips in.

He added that he had been in contact with Lillard and his agent throughout the week and had signalled that they were likely to keep the pick.

Cronin said he was not concerned about losing the seven-time All Star, as there were a number of opportunities to improve the team’s experience and talent in coming weeks.

Cronin’s quotes on Lillard:

There’s nothing we want more than, number one, for Damian to retire a Trail Blazer and two to put a winner around him, a high-end winner. For us, it’s an incredible problem to have. We have got the best player in Trail Blazers’ history, that wants to be here and wants to have a winner put around him. And that’s our challenge...find ways to make this team as competitive as possible as quickly as possible.

On trade possibilities:

There’s still a lot of movement to be had. We’ve got to do a good job in free agency and in the trade market especially in this activity window in the next two, three weeks. We’ve planted a lot of seeds on some deals. A lot of these deals we talked about outside of three. They weren’t necessarily draft-related. Sometimes these deals will carry through to tomorrow. Could be next week, could be outside the moratorium.

On drafting Scoot Henderson with the third overall pick:

Scoot is not your normal 19-year-old. This is a special, special player that is already... playing professionally for two years. He’s uber talented. He’s not going to take too long to find his stride. He’s a little unique in that regard. Scoot is anything but average.

On keeping Lillard and Henderson together:

In this league, there’s no such thing as zero probably, but I would say that my goal is to keep both of them. I would love to see Dame retire a Trail Blazer, I have zero desire to trade him and I think you can tell how excited I am about Scoot Henderson.

I definitely think that those two would blend well together from a talent standpoint and I think they can complement each other. He’s [Henderson] 6’3- 6’3 and a half. I’d rather have the shorter guy who is a better player than the 6’5 guy.

On possibly losing Lillard:

I don’t [feel like the Blazers are in danger of losing Lillard]. Dame badly badly wants to win and he’s been more vocal about that than ever but I don’t look at that as a negative.

Cronin acknowledged that it might be difficult to sort out the rotation but reiterated that there was still more work to do, via trade and free agency.

The full video of Cronin’s press conference is here: