With the 2023 NBA trade deadline approaching, the Portland Trail Blazers are going to need to pick a direction and become buyers, sellers, or something in-between.
According to NBA insider Matt Moore, there’s a belief around the NBA that only three players on Portland’s roster are untouchable.
“There is a belief around the league that the only three Blazers who are untouchable are Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, and Jerami Grant,” wrote Moore. “The Blazers have the option to extend Grant now, but there is conflicting intel on whether Grant will accept the offer (there is a belief that Grant has already agreed to terms on an extension that will be announced formally this summer) or wait until the summer for a larger contract.”
The way Moore sees it, the Blazers could end up being buyers and sellers at the same time.
He added some more information about the squad’s deadline outlook.
“Meanwhile, Portland has been active in talks with Phoenix and Chicago among other teams,” Moore wrote. “They are a possible [Jae] Crowder destination.
“Versatile wing Josh Hart is the most gettable, sources say, and their best trade chip outside of the untouchables to garner return. Jusuf Nurkic is thought to be available but would only be included for an upgrade at center.”
Lillard, Simons, and Grant are all very good players, so it’s not a shock to learn that the Trail Blazers want to keep them around.
Lillard, of course, is the face of the franchise, and this season, he’s averaging 30.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game.
Most PPG in a season by a Blazer since 1990:
30.1 – Dame Lillard (’23)
30.0 – Dame Lillard (’20)
28.8 – Dame Lillard (’21)
27.0 – Dame Lillard (’17)
26.9 – Dame Lillard (’18)
25.8 – Dame Lillard (’19)
25.1 – Dame Lillard (’16)
He’s in the top ten SEVEN TIMES in Blazers history pic.twitter.com/D4KheHndrV
— Ball Muse (@BallMuse23) January 29, 2023
Simons, meanwhile, is in the midst of the best season of his career so far.
He’s averaging 21.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game, all of which are career highs.
As for Grant, he has heard his name mentioned in a lot of trade rumors in recent years, but the Blazers evidently want to keep him in Portland.
He’s having a strong season, averaging 21.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per contest.
Portland is 23-26 on the season and currently holds the No. 12 spot in the Western Conference.
The squad is 1.5 games back of a play-in bid and two games back of a guaranteed playoff spot.
If the Blazers want to give Lillard a legitimate chance of winning a title with the organization before he retires or leaves, it’s going to be an important trade deadline and 2023 offseason for the team.
Time will tell what the future holds for Portland.