Joe Cronin Needs To Make The Tough Decisions, And He Needs To Make Them Now.


With another disappointing season finally over, I found myself very interested in hearing what general manager Joe Cronin had to say at his end-of-season press conference.

I’m starting to lose hope.

I was very optimistic when Cronin was promoted to replace Neil Olshey. I like what he has had to say in the past. But he hasn’t delivered talent around Damian Lillard. What is on his mind and what does he expect?

“We have to start taking big steps forward to keep us all appeased,” Cronin said Sunday following a humiliating loss to Golden State. “You know we don’t want to go through this anymore. It’s time for us to start winning basketball games. We want to put that pressure on ourselves and we want to go to the offseason with that mentality and mindset.”

That is exactly what I want too, Joe. I want the Blazers to win. I’m all about changing your mindset when it comes to expectations. I want them to have a different mindset. It sounds great. But can it actually happen? It hasn’t very often in this team’s history. I need to see it to believe it.

One of the bigger issues for the Blazers is who fits best next to Damian Lillard. The top options? Anfernee Simons and 19-year-old rookie sensation Shaedon Sharpe. The Blazers can’t be successful with all three of them on the same roster since Ant and Sharpe play the same position. But while it causes issues with roster balance, Cronin doesn’t seem to mind.

“I look at it as a great problem to have,” he said Sunday. “You know I wish we had a multitude of talent at every position and we had to figure out how to maximize each of those guys. Their games are different, but at the same time they play similar positions. Both are more two (guards) than one or three. How does the fit work out with the minutes? Are there other holes to fill instead? It’s an exercise we’re going to have to go through and evaluate.”

This seems like such an easy decision to me. Shaedon Sharpe is THE guy. At 19 years old and how talented he is, he is the one you are building around. Sharpe is taller, longer, quicker, and has more offensive skills than Simons, though Simons is a better pure shooter (but not by much). Sharpe shot 47% on catch-and-shoot three-pointers this season whereas Simons – in his career-best 2021-22 season – shot 48% on catch-and-shoot threes. Sharpe has shown the ability to play a full offensive game while Simons still has struggled to build on his repertoire.

The defense remains a question. Sharpe was brutal on defense this past season, but then again, Simons isn’t much better. With Sharpe being younger and bigger, I want the Blazers to invest in Sharpe long-term and look to trade Simons to get a better roster balance.

And who knows? Maybe dealing Ant and the lottery pick Portland gets in the draft will be enough to lure another team to trade an established all-star to Rip City. The Dame Clock keeps ticking, after all.