If you are a fan of a rival team hoping the Portland Trail Blazers take the bold step to shake up their roster and trade team legend Damian Lillard, you may want to start hoping your franchise shifts gears to pursuing another All-Star.
One of the biggest stories heading into the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday was surrounding what the Portland Trail Blazers would decide to do. After a disappointing season where they fell well short of even reaching the NBA play-in tournament, to most league observers it seemed like they had two paths ahead.
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They could use their No. 3 pick in this year’s event as a chip to trade for an impact player from a rival team to keep their top star happy, or they could hold steady and take the best player available. This reportedly would then set up Damian Lillard likely hitting the trade block as the team goes into a more youth-driven approach going forward.
On Thursday night, the Portland Trail Blazers did not move either of their picks in the first round of the NBA Draft and instead took a pair of high-level prospects in Scoot Henderson and Kris Murray. Yet, based on post-draft comments from the team’s general manager, that decision will have no barring on Lillard’s future with the team.
Portland Trail Blazers GM: ‘My goal is to keep both’ Damian Lillard and Scoot Henderson
During a Friday media scrum, Portland GM Joe Cronin spoke about his excitement in landing G-League star Henderson, and his hopes to have the best of both worlds in a top-shelf prospect and an All-Star to play alongside him.
“My goal is to keep both of them,” Cronin said. “I have zero desire to trade Dame. I really hope this works out here. You can tell how excited I am about Scoot Henderson. … It’s a possibility those two can blend well together. They can complement each other. We’ll see how [head coach Chauncey Billups] decides how to use them. I don’t know if he’ll use [Henderson] as a backup or a starter, or swing him, but basketball is about talent.”
It has been reported many times that the Portland Trail Blazers have no intentions of trading Lillard, and the seven-time All-Star would need to be the one to push for a move if it is to ever happen. However, the 32-year-old has often claimed finishing his career in Portland is his preference.