The NBA entered its unofficial trade season back on December 15, when most players who signed new deals this past summer became eligible for trades, including Portland Trail Blazers point guard Malcolm Brogdon.
For Portland, rumors will ramp up once again on Monday, January 15, when Jerami Grant joins the group of trade-eligible stars.
Grant’s trade eligibility kicks in at a deferred date due to the size of his deal against the Blazers’ total cap space. But the question isn’t about when Grant can be moved, but rather, is Joe Cronin really a seller the way many expected entering the season?
At this point, the Blazers aren’t “buyers.” Not with management eyeing a top lottery pick over the play-in tournament. However, selling isn’t the only option. Staying a “holder” is a reality despite the notion Portland would flip veterans for assets.
Rumors are out there. They’re not going away—especially after the Blazers fell in historic fashion to the up-and-coming OKC Thunder on Thursday, 139-77, securely giving them the fifth-worst record in the NBA.
Teams will have Cronin on speed dial until the Blazers prove they’re willing to hold past the February 8 trade deadline. In fact, execs across the league are already calling.
But which rumors, so far, are we buying with the deadline four weeks out?
Here’s a look at what could happen—and also a look at what’s BS at this point in the process.
West Contenders Calling About Jerami Grant?
It’s easy to see why teams a piece away covet Jerami Grant. He’s comfortable as a go-to scorer. His stretchability makes him a versatile forward or a big in small-ball situations. His experience expands beyond playing with Damian Lillard, as he was teammates with the game’s greatest stars on Team USA.
This week, Shams Charania reported that Dallas has “looked into” both Grant and Toronto’s Pascal Siakam via Kevin Gray of 97.1 The Freak. For now, it sounds like the asking price on both “might be a little too steep.” But the Mavs also appear ready to go all-in after last February’s trade for Kyrie Irving.
If the Blazers stick with their asking price on Grant, Dallas’ top target should be Siakam. Toronto’s fire sale is officially underway after the OG Anunoby trade, making Siakam the more likely of the two to be dealt with over the next few weeks.
BS Meter: Mostly BS detected. Dallas can call all it wants. Portland shouldn’t let Grant go for anything other than a premium, considering his suitors are trying to win now—all while the Blazers would be left with maybe the most shallow frontcourt in the NBA.
Winning doesn’t matter to Portland, but avoiding a losing culture does.
Trading Grant for assets and scraps would be leaning into the latter. Cronin won’t go that far this season.
Fans Out East Eyeing Anfernee Simons?
There aren’t accurate rumors starting fires about an Anfernee Simons trade as of this writing. But that doesn’t mean fans across certain fan bases aren’t trying to light the flames anyway.
So far this season, few teams have surprised the NBA, like the Orlando Magic. Paolo Banchero looks like the franchise player they wanted him to be, and that leaves the fanbase well within its right to dream big.
Anfernee Simons and Mikal Bridges are the biggest names fans want ahead of the deadline. Whether on X (formerly known as Twitter), Reddit, or the comments of any sports app, Magic fans are thirsty for wins, and Simons or Bridges would quench that thirst in a big way.
BS Meter: Lots of BS detected. Unfortunately for Magic fans, those players both feel like pipedreams. The Nets have already said Bridges is part of their immediate future, and I’d expect Cronin to do the same for Simons before February 8.
All that said, remember one thing: Simons is not a “Cronin guy.” Meaning, Cronin didn’t draft Simons and isn’t likely attached to him the way, say, Neil Olshey was to CJ McCollum. Give this one more season or two, and then we might have a whole different discussion about Simons’ future if the Blazers still need the wing they’ve craved for years.
New Year, New York for Malcolm Brogdon?
With 2023 behind us and the 2024 trade deadline weeks away, Malcolm Brogdon is back in the news, this time courtesy of New York Knicks beat writer Kris Pursiainen.
According to Pursiainen, the Knicks have “explored the option” of a Brodgon trade.
If you’re the Knicks, why not? You just made your biggest splash of the season with the Anunoby deal, and you have draft assets to flip for another big-time scorer and playmaker. New York is trying to win and win now, and that’s the exact situation Brogdon wants to join.
On top of the obvious, there’s another reason New York should do its due diligence on a Brogdon deal. Simply put, Brogdon might not net the return some Blazers fans are hoping for.
A first-round pick still feels like the more likely return for Portland than a young prospect. But a deal with notable protections seems even more likely than any unprotected pick.
BS Meter: No BS detected. The Knicks will keep calling Cronin on Brogdon until the still relatively new GM caves.
Portland might not get what some fans initially wanted, but the guard still feels like Portland’s best chance to add to the asset chest this season.
As much fun as he’s been to watch, the clock might be ticking on Brogdon’s time with the Blazers.
Don’t expect Brogdon on the roster past February 8.