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Blazers Have ‘Genuine Interest’ Building Around Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers are sticking to their guns and trying to build around Damian Lillard.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers are approaching a fork in the road.

With the NBA Draft less than two weeks away and the Blazers projected to pick third overall, Portland must field trade offers and decide whether to hold ‘em or fold ‘em.

Holding on to their team’s core headlined by Damian Lillard has always been Portland’s first choice, but given the lack of the affable trades to surround him around talent that can contend for a championship, the Blazers have more reason than ever to trade their franchise cornerstone and start over.

However, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor says the Blazers want to keep Lillard and build around him.

“My league sources say that Portland’s interest in building around Lillard is genuine. The front office is exploring deals for the no. 3 pick, and it’s also open to moving Anfernee Simons. Jaylen Brown, Pascal Siakam, or Mikal Bridges would make sense as potential targets via trade, but it’s unclear what level of appetite the Blazers have for that kind of trade. Come draft night, they might just pick.”

If the Blazers make the pick at No. 3, it may not mean Lillard is immediately out, but it could spell the beginning of the end. However, if Portland makes the pick, it means one of two things: a) the Blazers really like the rookie they would take at No. 3 or b) the Blazers didn’t like any of the offers given to them for the No. 3 pick.

If Brown, Siakam and Bridges are the targets and Portland opts for keeping the pick, it means it feels as if the trades weren’t to its liking. Those three would make Portland better, but they may not make the Blazers a Western Conference contender.

Ultimately, it’s up to Joe Cronin and the front office to figure it out. It’s a position nobody in the league should envy.