While some NBA observers believe the Portland Trail Blazers could break their roster down this offseason and start from scratch, a new rumor claims they may instead use their top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft to get team legend Damian Lillard some help for next season.
On Tuesday night the annual NBA lottery took place. The San Antonio Spurs were the big winner on the night after landing the top pick and super-prospect Victor Wembanyama, but another notable story was that the Portland Trail Blazers scored the third pick overall in June.
Following the event, early speculation already claimed that G-League star Scoot Henderson would likely be the selection the Portland Trail Blazers make next month. However, there are now rumblings they may not hold on to that pick for very long. On Tuesday night, ESPN NBA insider Zach Lowe reported on some interesting rumblings from around the league last night.
“The Blazers could of course keep that pick, but rival executives expect them to explore the kind of veteran help that pick — plus other players — might fetch for Damian Lillard. The No. 3 pick by itself won’t net a game-changing veteran. What might the combination of that pick and Anfernee Simons get Portland? If they do try to load up around Lillard — which requires Lillard indicating he’d like to stay in Portland — expect the Blazers to go after wings and big men, sources said.”– Zach Lowe
Assuming the Portland Trail Blazers shop the third pick overall and star scorer Anfernee Simons, let’s look at four impact players they could target soon with those assets.
It is possible the Chicago Bulls choose to hold on to DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine and re-load for 2023-2024, but there are rumors the former Raptors and Spurs star could soon be on the block. After a long career, DeRozan won’t fetch the wild return that Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell got last summer, but a third pick overall and Simons is likely. A DeRozan and Lillard backcourt for a couple of seasons should certainly be a short-term upgrade for Portland.
Toronto Raptors young-gun OG Anunoby was one of the most rumored trade targets during the February deadline, but the haul was reportedly too rich for most teams. That still might be the case but it is also possible Toronto will lower their asking price to get a controllable young star in Simons, the third pick, and a couple more first-rounders this summer.
A lot of rumors have already sprung up that Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns could be the New York Knicks’ top target in the offseason. However, based on Lowe’s report, he could be an even better fit for the Portland Trail Blazers. Plus, the Wolves would get a good but far cheaper star back from Portland, rather than expensive Knicks players like Julius Randle or RJ Barrett.
Furthermore, a trio of Gobert, Simons, and Anthony Edwards — along with a top prospect — might mean a more balanced lineup and upside next season for Minnesota.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
There is sure to be some change coming to the Memphis Grizzlies roster this offseason, especially with Ja Morant expected to miss a substantial amount of time. With few scoring options, the Grizz might be willing to give up defensive player of the year Jaren Jackson Jr. in return for more scoring in Simons or a top prospect in June. It is a bit of a reach, but Memphis and Portland may need to think outside the box this summer.