By 750 THE GAME STAFF
ESPN NBA Insider Brian Windhorst joined Dan Patrick on 750 The Game on Thursday morning with a roundup of the latest news and rumors he’s heard around the league a week before the draft.
Listeners in Portland were eager to hear Windhorst’s perspective on how the Trail Blazers are approaching the draft. Damian Lillard wants to contend right away, while Portland has the third overall pick and a roster that is not positioned in its current form to comply with Lillard’s wishes.
There has been some conversation around the Blazers possibly exploring trading Lillard and fully committing to a rebuild.
Windhorst said that’s not what he’s hearing. At least not yet.
“Lillard, as of right now, and I have to underscore ‘right now’, 11:30 Eastern on Thursday June 15th,” Windhorst qualified, “as of right now, I think he wants to be a Blazer. I think the Blazers are trying to make moves to support him.
“The trades that I’ve heard the Blazers are in negotiations for over the last few days are trades that are centered around building around Dame.”
Windhorst didn’t go into the deals he’s heard Portland being involved in conversations for, but said that if they go through with the selection of a prospect like Scoot Henderson with the third overall pick, Lillard’s stance could change.
“If they don’t make a deal, if they end up drafting a teenager with the third pick next week, I do think Dame could re-evaluate and say, ‘What are we doing here?’,” Windhorst said.
“But, you’re asking me right now, at 11:31, right now, Dame is not being traded nor is he asking to be traded.”
Patrick brought up the timeline question fans in Portland have been asking themselves.
“He gets older, they get younger,” Patrick pointed out. “That’s not a recipe for winning anything in Portland.”
“To be honest with you, don’t tell anybody this, but the Blazers already kind of started a rebuild,” Windhorst said. “They tanked the last two years — ”
“But why not just continue then, Brian?” Patrick interjected.
“See, this is the thing,” Windhorst sighed. “If you honestly, if they were hiring me as a consultant, I would say you had the number eight (sic) pick last year, you drafted Shaedon Sharpe who’s got a high upside. They have the number three pick this year. You’re already halfway there. You could see what the market could get you for Dame.
“But I also don’t have to fill up the Moda Center. I don’t have to sit there in front of the fans. They have not been competitive within the last couple of years, as good as he is.”
Windhorst reiterated his opinion the Blazers should explore a market for Lillard given their current position.
“If I were them I would seriously consider saying, we’ve already kind of started the rebuild and what could we get for Dame right now, my God, the offers would be robust.
“But that is not how they are acting. That is not what Joe Cronin, the general manager has said, that is not how they are acting. They are behaving as if they are trying to build right now around a guy who’s been the best player in franchise history. And I understand that as well.”
The NBA Draft is next Thursday.