Missing the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, the Portland Trail Blazers are a strong bet to shake up the roster this summer. Boasting the No. 3 overall pick, GM Joe Cronin is in a good position to add another elite player to a core led by Damian Lillard.
Yet, Lillard, who’s set to turn 33 in July, may not have the patience to wait for another rookie to develop. So it’s certainly possible the Blazers look to trade their top pick for a proven commodity.
According to Blazers insider Sean Highkin, the organization has three primary targets via trade.
“I would agree that those (Mikal Bridges, Pascal Siakam and Jaylen Brown) are the three primary targets for the (Blazers) when it comes to trades involving the third pick, and I think there’s a reasonable chance something gets done involving one of them.”NBA insider Sean Highkin on Portland Trail Blazers’ trade targets
While there’s no guarantee all or any of the above will become available this offseason, there’s a reasonable path for each popping up on the trade block in the next few months.
How Portland Trail Blazers could pull off a trade
The Portland Blazers have the third pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, but they also have an aging Damian Lillard who wants to win now. If the Blazers are looking to appease Lillard by building for the short term instead of for the long haul, how might a trade for one of the above-mentioned stars look? Let’s take a quick gander.
- Portland Trail Blazers trade: Third overall pick, 23rd overall pick, Anfernee Simons, Kevin Knox, Nassir Little
- Toronto Raptors trade: Pascal Siakam
This scenario sees the Raptors come closer to a reset, by moving off from the 29-year-old Siakam for three young pieces in the two picks and Simons who can replace Gary Trent Jr. if he opts out of his contract this summer. The third pick gives the Raptors a chance to possibly replace Fred VanVleet if he does the same. Reports have suggested Toronto is looking to leap up to the fourth pick, so this may be their way of doing it.
For the Blazers, they get a dominant two-time All-NBA frontcourt presence in Siakam, who will help reduce the attention on Lillard offensively while improving the team’s defense in the paint. He even brings valued playoff experience from his NBA championship run in 2019.
- Trail Blazers trade: Third overall pick, 23rd overall pick, Anfernee Simons
- Brooklyn Nets trade: Mikal Bridges
Brooklyn parting with Bridges seems like a scenario that’s hard to fathom. Yet, it’s possible the Nets see the potential to grab one of the best prospects in the NBA draft, plus a comparable scorer in Simons as being worth the risk. Plus, Bridges is 26, Simons is 23, and let’s face it, the Nets aren’t in position to compete for a title any time soon. This trade gives hope to build a deeper roster with more top-end potential, even if it is a temporary setback.
Bridges had a breakout season after his trade to Brooklyn, showing he could not only be a pesky defender but also handle the scoring burden by averaging 26.1 points per game. His perimeter defense and consistent ability to light up the scoreboard makes Bridges a great fit next to Lillard.
- Trail Blazers trade: Third overall pick, Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe
- Boston Celtics trade: Jaylen Brown
The Celtics may not be ready to disband their All-NBA duo, but perhaps a strong enough offer and a chance to drastically reduce the team’s payroll could change their minds. Simons would help replace Brown’s scoring, and the third pick gives Boston a chance to add one of the top prospects in the draft, perhaps even a long-term point guard like Scoot Henderson.
Meanwhile, Portland gives up most of its youth while adding a talented two-way star in Brown, who can not only be a strong complementary scoring option to Lillard but also help the Blazers improve defensively on the wing. The Blazers would suddenly have an All-NBA backcourt and could still retain Jerami Grant in free agency to go with Jusuf Nurkic to form a stacked quartet of talent.