The 1 Critical Error The Portland Trail Blazers Must Correct In Their Rebuild


The Portland Trail Blazers are early in their rebuilding process, and we should wait to see the finished product before rushing to judgment on general manager Joe Cronin. However, the Blazers are missing one glaring aspect of rebuilding, which successful teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder have implemented.

Portland has landed promising players with All-Star potential in the past two drafts. Shaedon Sharpe was taken by the Blazers at pick No. 7 in 2022, while Scoot Henderson was selected No. 3 overall in 2023. However, outside of those two players, the Blazers’ critical error in this rebuilding process has been not focusing enough on the draft. Specifically, the Blazers aren’t stockpiling enough draft capital from other teams.

Blazers Must Focus More On Rebuilding Via Draft

While Sharpe and Henderson are expected to make significant leaps next season, they have yet to put together an entire consistent season. Sharpe was limited to 32 games this year after undergoing surgery for a core muscle injury. Sharpe, 21, and Henderson, 20, are incredibly young and have plenty of time to reach their upside. But there’s also a scenario in which neither pans out to be a star around which the Blazers can base the foundation of their rebuild.

The Blazers must accumulate draft picks to increase their chances of landing a franchise-altering star. The draft is often a crapshoot, and Portland needs to improve its long-term upside by taking as many flyers as possible on prospects.

They did acquire the Golden State Warriors’ No. 14 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft from the Boston Celtics as part of the Jrue Holiday deal. But, this offseason, they should focus on turning more of the assets obtained from the blockbuster Damian Lillard trade into draft picks.

Why Portland Needs To Trade Veteran Players

Trading veteran pieces improves the Blazers’ long-term outlook in multiple ways. The apparent reason is to wind up with a worse regular season record and, in the process, increase their odds of landing a better pick in the lottery. The 2025 NBA Draft projects to be a strong class, headlined by Duke forward Cooper Flagg. The Blazers also owe the Chicago Bulls their 2025 first-round pick. However, it is lottery-protected, further incentivizing Portland to be patient with their rebuild.

Some veterans who could potentially be on the move include Malcolm Brogdon, Jerami Grant, Matisse Thybulle, and Robert Williams III. Although Anfernee Simons is only 25 and fits into their rebuilding timeline, the Blazers should strongly consider trading the sharpshooter this summer, especially given Simons’ trade value.

Trail Blazers’ Murky Financial Situation

The second reason for dumping these established players for young assets and draft capital is the size of their veterans’ contracts. Despite finishing with a 21-61 record, Portland owes four players more than $20 million next season between Deandre Ayton ($34 million), Grant ($30 million), Simons ($26 million), and Brogdon ($23 million). After accounting for their two lottery picks, Portland will be over the projected $171 million luxury tax line for next season. For financial reasons, the Blazers will likely make at least one move this summer, and it should involve one of their core players if they want to significantly reduce their current salary issue.

The Blazers have many aspects of their rebuild post-Damian Lillard backward, particularly the number of established veterans on their roster and their murky financial situation. They should be taking on bad contracts with picks attached. Instead, they are approaching the first apron while finishing with the worst record in the Western Conference. The Blazers and Joe Cronin need to consider this pressing matter at the forefront of their offseason decisions.

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