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In expected move, Trail Blazers pick up guarantee Josh Hart next season

Washington Wizards v Portland Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 12: Josh Hart #11 of the Portland Trail Blazers attempts a shot during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards at Moda Center on March 12, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

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When the Trail Blazers first traded for Josh Hart, GM Joe Cronin called him a “keeper.”

Saturday, Cronin backed up those words with action.

In a move widely expected, the Trail Blazers guaranteed Hart for next season at $12.9 million, Aaron J. Fentress of the Oregonian confirms.

As Fentress notes, Hart has a very interesting mutual option for the 2023-24 season where both he and the team must agree for him to come back. This coming season will be the second season of the three-year, $39.7 million contract he signed with the Pelicans.

That is also a very tradable sized salary if Portland chooses to make another move — Hart has fans in front offices around the league. He does everything pretty well and plays hard nightly.

Hart averaged 19.9 points a game on an impressive 62.2 true shooting percentage in the 13 games he played for the Trail Blazers this season, picking up the scoring load with Damian Lillard out (Hart came to New Orleans as part of the CJ McCollum trade). He should find a comfortable role on a roster with Lillard, Jerami Grant, a re-signed Anfernee Simons, and whoever else the Trail Blazers round their roster out with.