The NBA draft is tonight and the Trail Blazers have no picks. But it is expected that situation will change.
The Blazers, going back through most of the late Paul Allen’s tenure as the team’s owner, love to be involved in the annual basketball star search.
And Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations, has shown a lot of skill in plucking rotation players (Will Barton, Gary Trent Jr., Pat Connaughton, Jake Layman, Allen Crabbe) out of the second round and I think it’s a very good bet the team will find a way to acquire at least a second-round pick.
The draft has always been a time of many trades in the NBA and the Trail Blazers have been involved in talks.
But sources around the league say that Damian Lillard’s public proclamation about wanting an improved roster has put the Trail Blazers in a difficult position.
The perception is now that Portland is under pressure to make a big move to placate Lillard and thus, the asking price for a player the Blazers may covet has gone much higher.
Prospective trade partners are now asking for a mother lode of future draft picks and several players in return for a player who simply isn’t worth that sort of ransom.
It may take time before the Trail Blazers can convince trade partners that there is no fire sale going on. Olshey is not the type to make a deal out of panic or desperation.
And as far as dealing Lillard, there has been no indication that Portland has had any discussions about that.
Ahead for the Blazers is the battle to keep free agent Norman Powell, who opted out of a player option. Portland is expected to be in the picture, but the cost of signing him will likely land the team in the luxury tax – which is the reason the Blazers stayed out of the tax last season, avoiding the repeater tax.
Powell is in a fortuitous position because there are teams that created cap room for this off-season in anticipation of Giannis Antetokounmpo becoming a free agent, which did not happen.
Those teams will have money to burn this summer, perhaps driving up Powell’s price.