By STEVEN VAUGHAN, 750 THE GAME
It’s the question all Trail Blazers fans have.
Draft a player at No. 3 overall? Or trade the pick for an established star to help Damian Lillard now?
Timing is everything in sports. It’s unfortunate that the Blazers couldn’t surround Lillard with a better supporting cast earlier in his career. Now that the roster is getting younger, Lillard’s own timeline may not fit the one shared by the rest of the team.
If the Blazers are to use the third pick on a rookie, many think it makes sense for Portland to trade Lillard before the June 22 NBA Draft in order to acquire a hefty sum of draft capital in return.
John Canzano pushed back on that idea, saying a self-imposed deadline doesn’t help the mission.
“I’ve talked to GM’s over the years about trades,” Canzano said on 750 The Game. “Usually trades that happen right before the draft or right before the trade deadline, you’re generally trading a problem for a problem. ‘Your problem for my problem’ is what one Western Conference GM told me years ago.”
Canzano points out Lillard really isn’t a problem, but his fit on the current roster presents a fork in the road.
“Damian Lillard’s not a problem. It’s a dilemma in that his age doesn’t fit with his teammates. His skill set may be diminishing in the coming two or three or four years and his contract becomes costly. It’s a bit of a conundrum, but he’s not a problem right now on the court.”
The Blazers roster has been turned upside down over the past few seasons. Canzano thinks that Blazers GM Joe Cronin has already lost value on some of the trades he’s already done.
“If you’re trading players that are really good players on the court you are often getting pennies on the dollar for them,” Canzano said. “We saw that with the Blazers trading CJ McCollum — I don’t think they got full value.”
Canzano says Cronin and the Blazers front office shouldn’t create a self-imposed deadline, lest they risk getting pennies on the dollar for one of the best players in franchise history.
“If you’re going to trade Damian Lillard right now, I don’t think you’re going to get full value unless you really shop,” Canzano said. “There’s going to be a draft in June and that creates a deadline. And a lot of times I think those deadlines are false. It creates an urgency when there isn’t an urgency.”
The Blazers offseason is looking like it will be one of the more intriguing offseasons in the league. The direction of the franchise will be decided in the next couple of months and it starts with the draft and whether to trade their all-time leading scorer.
Listen to the segment at the 1:26:30 mark of the podcast below. Catch the Bald Faced Truth with John Canzano weekdays 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.