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#pounditThursday, June 20, 2024

Report: Blazers passed up major trades that would have satisfied Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard looks on

Mar 10, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers are faced with the scenario of having to trade an unhappy Damian Lillard, but the situation was apparently avoidable from their end.

Lillard has previously made clear to the Trail Blazers that he wants to see the team make moves toward contending now and is not interested in being part of a youth movement. The Blazers, however, notably stayed put with the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft, selecting highly-touted guard Scoot Henderson instead of trading it for a more established player.

The Blazers did, however, have the chance to make a big move. According to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian, the Blazers were offered deals around the NBA Draft that would have pleased Lillard, but did not take them. At least some of those offers would have required Portland to trade 2022 lottery pick Shaedon Sharpe, guard Anfernee Simons, center Jusuf Nurkic, and the pick that ultimately became Henderson in order to acquire a star.

While Lillard would have preferred such a trade, Blazers GM Joe Cronin sees Henderson and Sharpe as potential stars that could anchor the franchise for years to come. In other words, Cronin was unwilling to mortgage what he sees as the franchise’s future just to make a deal that would have placated Lillard.

It is entirely understandable why Lillard would have wanted to see the Blazers make such a trade. It also makes sense why the Blazers decided not to do it. If they can get a good return for a Lillard trade, they could be positioned with a core of young talent that could set them up to be a contender in a few years. That may be a better bet than trying to satisfy Lillard, especially if one thinks the team is more than one player away from legitimately contending for a championship.

The Blazers and Lillard are now stuck in a tough spot. Lillard has made it very clear that he only wants to be traded to one specific team, but Portland is trying to get the best possible package in any deal.


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