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Portland Trail Blazers expected to trade lottery pick: 3 scenarios for retooling team

Vincent Frank

Despite trading C.J. McCollum back in February, the Portland Trail Blazers are not expected to go into full-scale rebuild mode.

Just recently promoted to full-time general manager, Joe Cronin is expected to be active this summer in attempting to find core pieces behind franchise stalwart Damian Lillard and young wing Anfernee Simons.

According to this note from John Hollinger and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, Portland is expected to look for trade partners to take the seventh pick in the 2022 NBA Draft off their hands for a veteran.

Among the names bandied about, Portland has been linked to both Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges and Jerami Grant of the Detroit Pistons. The team is also expected to make a play for Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine. Both Bridges and LaVine are pending free agents while Grant remains under contract for another season.

Below, we look at three Portland Trail Blazers trade scenarios for the seventh pick.

Related: Updated NBA trade rumors

Portland Trail Blazers trade for Jerami Grant

portland trail blazers trade for jerami grant
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
  • Blazers get: Jerami Grant, 46th pick
  • Pistons get: Eric Bledsoe, 7th pick

A question can certainly be raised about whether Grant is actually worth the seventh pick in the draft. He’s entering a contract year and is coming off a 2021-22 campaign that saw the forward miss 35 games to injuries. With that said, we’re still talking about one of the most underrated three-and-D players in the NBA. It’s a major need for Portland after the failed Robert Covington experiment.

It also helps here that Portland is able to use Bledsoe’s non-guaranteed contract as salary leverage to make a deal work. It would still leave the team roughly $22 million to spend in free agency.

As for Detroit, it’s rather simple. The team is intent on building around Saddiq Bey with Cade Cunningham. There’s really no need for Grant. Already boasting the fifth pick in the draft, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver adds another top-seven selection for a player who doesn’t fit into their long-term plans.

Related: Full two-round 2022 NBA mock draft

Portland Trail Blazers add young forward

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
  • Blazers get: De’Andre Hunter, Skylar Mays, 16th pick
  • Hawks get: Josh Hart, 7th pick

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk has already made it clear that the status quo is not working after a first-round playoff exit. He admitted that standing pat last summer following a surprise appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals the previous season was a mistake.

If that’s indeed the case, we fully expect Atlanta to move off multiple forwards as a way to find Trae Young more help. Boasting a team option for the 2022-23 season, Hunter would make sense in order to help the Hawks bring back some more talent. It’s in this that Hart would be a great fit.

As for Portland, it adds a still-young 24-year-old former top-five pick to team up with Lillard and Simons. Still not at his ceiling, Hunter averaged 13.4 points on 38% shooting from distance a season ago. He’d be another space filler to go with Lillard and Simons. Portland also finds a way to add a mid first-round pick in this swap.

Related: Zach LaVine and top 2022 NBA free agents

Portland Trail Blazers pull off sign-and-trade for Zach LaVine

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Portland Trail Blazers
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Blazers get: Zach LaVine
  • Bulls get: 7th pick, Eric Bledsoe, Josh Hart

This is a deal that actually couldn’t happen during the NBA Draft. Rather, Portland would be making this selection for Chicago while making the trade official once free agency opens. It’s complicated. But it’s something we have seen in the past.

Despite leading his Bulls to the playoffs a season ago, there’s increased chatter that LaVine might depart in free agency. If that is indeed true, a contending Bulls team might want to pull off a sign-and-trade in order to get something in return. Taking on Bledsoe’s non-guaranteed contract would enable Chicago to increase the value it receives for LaVine. The team can then use the seventh pick and other assets to add a star player to the mix in a separate trade.

This deal would be an absolute slam dunk from Portland’s perspective. LaVine is legitimately one of the top-five wings in the entire NBA. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, the former lottery pick is averaging 25.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists on 40% shooting from distance. Just imagine him teaming up with a healthy Lillard and Simons. That core three has playoffs written all over it.