Trail Blazers Rumors

Trail Blazers May Make Offers To Miles Bridges, Cody Martin

  • The Trail Blazers may target Charlotte’s Miles Bridges and Cody Martin in free agency, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Both players will be restricted free agents, so the Hornets could match any offer that Portland (or another team) makes.

“League Gossip” Links Zach LaVine To Rival Teams

“League gossip” at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago this week indicates that Zach LaVine returning to the Bulls as an unrestricted free agent this summer is no longer considered a foregone conclusion like it once was, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The two-time All-Star has been linked to the Lakers, Trail Blazers, Mavericks and Hawks at the combine, with more suitors likely to follow, according to Johnson.

Marc Stein has heard similarly, writing in his latest Substack article that “there is much more hope in circulation than anticipated” that the star wing might be convinced to join a rival team in free agency.

The 27-year-old is expected to undergo a relatively minor knee scope early next week, but that won’t diminish interest in LaVine’s free agency, Johnson relays. Some rival executives think Chicago might be reluctant to offer LaVine a full max contract. The Bulls can give him a projected $212.3MM over five years, while any other team would be limited to a max offer of $157.4MM over four years.

The Bulls have expressed a public desire to retain LaVine long-term, and he said he was pleased with the moves the team made last offseason (separate sign-and-trades for Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, and signing Alex Caruso), which helped the club reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016/17.

It just shows that they (the Bulls front office) were ready to win. Obviously my first couple of years here it was tough to have that feeling. This year has been incredible,” LaVine said in late April, per Johnson. “You’ve got to take everything into consideration. And obviously the team we have here is something you’ve got to consider, how good that we were this last year and moving forward.”

The Lakers, Mavs and Hawks don’t currently have the cap space to sign LaVine outright — they’d have to pull off a sign-and-trade to acquire him, which is much more complicated. And while the Blazers technically can create enough room to sign him, they’d have to execute several moves first.

Ultimately, Johnson believes a return to the Bulls is still the most likely outcome — assuming that’s what LaVine wants.

Fischer’s Latest: Magic, Holmgren, Bamba, Kings, Sharpe

Rival executives and league personnel view Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren as the most likely pick for the Magic at No. 1 in next month’s draft due to the front office’s affinity for length, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond have gravitated toward lanky players with huge wingspans since arriving in Orlando and did the same during their days in Milwaukee, Fischer observes, citing Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Thon Maker, Jonathan Isaac, and Mohamed Bamba as examples.

Fischer also points to Holmgren’s good relationship with last year’s No. 4 overall pick Jalen Suggs – they played together at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis – as another reason why the Magic may be leaning toward the Gonzaga star.

Whether the Magic end up drafting Holmgren or another top big man prospect like Auburn’s Jabari Smith, league personnel increasingly believe that Bamba is increasingly likely to leave the team this summer, Fischer says. Bamba is eligible for restricted free agency, but there may not be room for him in a frontcourt that would include Holmgren or Smith, Wendell Carter, and the returning Isaac.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • There’s a “strong belief” among rival executives that the Kings, who badly want to get back to the playoffs, will explore trading the No. 4 pick, according to Fischer. Holmgren, Smith, and Paolo Banchero are the consensus top three players in the draft class, but a number of prospects are in play at No. 4, so there may be a team that feels compelled to move up to snag its preferred target, Fischer writes.
  • League personnel view the Trail Blazers at No. 7 and the Pelicans at No. 8 as other good candidates for trades among lottery teams, per Fischer. The Thunder, Grizzlies, and Spurs, all of whom own multiple first-round selections, are worth monitoring for possible trade-up scenarios, and there are a few teams that may want to move their first-rounders for future picks due to salary cap or luxury tax concerns, Fischer adds.
  • Shaedon Sharpe is considered the wild card of the lottery and could come off the board as high as No. 4, Fischer says. Some executives told Bleacher Report that Sharpe could realistically have been a candidate for No. 1 overall if he had played at all at Kentucky. Given how little Sharpe has played in the last year, he’s regarded as a high-risk, high-upside pick.

Northwest Notes: Cronin, Blazers Pick, Gobert, Bogdanovic, Presti

Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin didn’t hide his disappointment over the lack of luck in the draft lottery, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Cronin called it a “mini-gut punch” when Portland wound up with the No. 7 pick.

“Then you say, ‘OK, we’ve got work to do,” said Cronin, who is unsure whether he’ll retain the pick or look to deal it. Cronin is now at the draft combine.

“We’ll get through this week and get through the interviews and see the guys play, and get the medicals,” he said.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Given that the Trail Blazers‘ stated intention of returning to playoff contention next season, dealing their lottery pick is the most likely scenario, Jason Quick of The Athletic opines. If they don’t make a trade, Shaedon Sharpe — who practiced but didn’t play for Kentucky this past season — could be the pick if he’s still on the board. It’s also a probability they’ll restart talks with the Pistons regarding a potential Jerami Grant deal, Quick says.
  • There are no untouchables on the Jazz roster, but league sources indicate that if they deal one of the All-Stars, it would more likely be Rudy Gobert than Donovan Mitchell, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. Outside of that duo, Bojan Bogdanovic is the biggest trade asset the team possesses despite his age, Todd adds.
  • The Thunder wound up with the No. 2 and No. 12 picks in the first round. GM Sam Presti said it could come down to the wire what they’ll do with those selections, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman“We don’t really even finalize those (ratings) until a little bit before the draft, to be honest with you,” Presti said. “They’re always changing.”

2022 NBA Draft Picks By Team

Not only did the Thunder move up in Tuesday’s draft lottery to claim this year’s No. 2 overall pick, but they’re also one of just three teams with four picks in the 2022 draft. No team’s 2022 selections are more valuable than Oklahoma City’s — in addition to the second overall pick, the Thunder control No. 12, No. 30, and No. 34.

The Spurs and Timberwolves also each own four 2022 draft picks, with San Antonio controlling three first-rounders and No. 38, while Minnesota has No. 19 and three second-rounders.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, four clubs don’t currently own any 2022 draft picks. The Lakers, Suns, and Jazz are three of those teams, and either the Sixers or the Nets will be the fourth, depending on whether Brooklyn decides to acquire Philadelphia’s first-rounder or defer it to 2023.

To present a clearer picture of which teams are most – and least – stocked with picks for the 2022 NBA draft, we’ve rounded up all 58 selections by team in the space below. Let’s dive in…


Teams with more than two picks:

  • Oklahoma City Thunder (4): 2, 12, 30, 34
  • San Antonio Spurs (4): 9, 20, 25, 38
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (4): 19, 40, 48, 50
  • Orlando Magic (3): 1, 32, 35
  • Sacramento Kings (3): 4, 37, 49
  • Indiana Pacers (3): 6, 31, 58
  • Portland Trail Blazers (3): 7, 36, 57
  • New Orleans Pelicans (3): 8, 41, 52
  • Charlotte Hornets (3): 13, 15, 45
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (3): 14, 39, 56
  • Memphis Grizzlies (3): 22, 29, 47
  • Golden State Warriors (3): 28, 51, 55

Teams with two picks:

  • Houston Rockets: 3, 17
  • Detroit Pistons: 5, 46
  • Washington Wizards: 10, 54
  • New York Knicks: 11, 42
  • Atlanta Hawks: 16, 44

Teams with one pick:

  • Chicago Bulls: 18
  • Denver Nuggets: 21
  • Brooklyn Nets: 23
    • Note: The Nets have the option of deferring their acquisition of this Sixers pick to 2023. That decision must be made by June 1.
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 24
  • Dallas Mavericks: 26
  • Miami Heat: 27
  • Toronto Raptors: 33
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 43
  • Boston Celtics: 53

Teams with no picks:

  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Philadelphia 76ers
    • Note: The Sixers will retain their first-rounder if the Nets defer their acquisition of that pick to 2023. That decision must be made by June 1.
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Utah Jazz

Magic Win 2022 NBA Draft Lottery; Thunder, Rockets, Kings In Top Four

With Tuesday night’s lottery results now official, the top 14 slots for the 2022 NBA draft have been set. The lottery order is as follows:

  1. Orlando Magic
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. Houston Rockets
  4. Sacramento Kings
  5. Detroit Pistons
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Portland Trail Blazers
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers)
  9. San Antonio Spurs
  10. Washington Wizards
  11. New York Knicks
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Clippers)
  13. Charlotte Hornets
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s great news for the rebuilding Magic, who finished dead last in the Eastern Conference this season and had the NBA’s second-worst record (22-60). They entered the night tied for the best odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick at 14.0%, and will be picking first in the draft for the first time since 2004, when they selected Dwight Howard.

This time around, the Magic appear likely to draft a big man once again. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith, and Duke’s Paolo Banchero, all power forwards or centers, are widely considered to be the top prospects in the 2022 class. Orlando could add one of them to a core that includes 2021 lottery picks Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs.

The Thunder are one of the night’s other big winners, moving up from fourth in the pre-lottery order to No. 2 overall. The rebuilding squad is loaded with first-round picks over the next five years, and will have the opportunity to draft a potential franchise player next month to complement guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. Oklahoma City is the only team with two picks in this year’s lottery, having acquired the No. 12 overall selection from the Clippers.

The Rockets will have a top-three pick for a second straight year after nabbing Jalen Green second overall in 2021. They’ll be followed by the Kings, who moved up from seventh in the pre-lottery order to No. 4 in the draft, making good on their 31.9% chance to jump into the top four.

It’s the fourth consecutive time that the seventh team in the lottery standings has moved into the top four. The Pelicans (Zion Williamson), Hornets (LaMelo Ball), and Raptors (Scottie Barnes) did it in 2019, 2020, and 2021 after the NBA revamped its lottery format ahead of the 2019 event.

The Pistons, Pacers, and Trail Blazers were among the biggest losers on lottery night. Detroit moved down two spots, from No. 3 to No. 5, while Indiana and Portland both dropped one spot from their place in the pre-lottery order, landing at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.

Since the Lakers’ first-round pick stayed at No. 8, it will head to the Pelicans rather than the Grizzlies — Memphis would have received it if it had fallen out of the top 10.

The rest of the lottery played out as expected, with the Spurs, Wizards, Knicks, Thunder, Hornets, and Cavaliers rounding out the top 14.

2022 NBA Draft Lottery Primer

The 2022 NBA draft lottery will take place on Tuesday night prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Celtics. The half-hour event will be broadcast on ESPN beginning at 7:00 pm central time.

This year’s draft pool features a group of four prospects generally considered by experts to be a level above the rest of the class: Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr., Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey. Teams that move into the top four on Tuesday night will have the opportunity to snag one of those potential future stars.

Here’s what you need to know heading into tonight’s lottery:


Pre-Lottery Draft Order:

The top 14 picks in the 2022 NBA draft would look like this if tonight’s lottery results don’t change the order:

  1. Houston Rockets
  2. Orlando Magic
  3. Detroit Pistons
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Portland Trail Blazers
  7. Sacramento Kings
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers)
    • Note: The Grizzlies will receive this pick if it falls to No. 11 or No. 12.
  9. San Antonio Spurs
  10. Washington Wizards
  11. New York Knicks
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Clippers)
  13. Charlotte Hornets
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers

For the full pre-lottery draft order, click here.


Draft Lottery Odds:

The Rockets, Magic, Pistons, and Thunder have the best odds to land the No. 1 pick. Each of those four teams has a 14.0% chance to pick first overall.

Typically, only the top three teams in the lottery standings would have a 14.0% shot at the No. 1 overall pick, but the Thunder join that group by virtue of holding two lottery picks — there’s a 12.5% chance that their own pick will move up to No. 1 and a 1.5% chance the Clippers’ pick, which they also control, will be No. 1.

From there, the Pacers (10.5%), Trail Blazers (9.0%), Kings (7.5%), and Pelicans (6.0%) have the best odds to receive the first overall pick.

For the full draft lottery odds for all 14 spots, click here.


Trades Affecting The Draft Lottery:

The Clippers and Lakers are the only non-playoff teams that have traded away their lottery picks this year, and neither team put protections on its traded first-rounder.

The Thunder will receive the Clippers’ pick, as detailed above.

The Lakers’ pick technically still remains up for grabs, depending on the lottery results, due to a trade between New Orleans and Memphis. Here are the details on that deal:

Pelicans/Grizzlies

The Pelicans will acquire the Lakers’ pick if it lands in the top 10, while the Grizzlies will receive it if it ends up at No. 11 or 12.

Since the Lakers finished eighth in the lottery standings, there’s approximately a 99.5% chance that New Orleans will hang onto the pick. At least three teams in the 9-14 range would have to jump into the top four in order for Memphis to receive it.


Draft Lottery Representatives:

The representatives for each of this year’s lottery teams are as follows, according to a pair of announcements from the NBA:

  1. Houston Rockets
    • On stage: Rafael Stone (general manager)
    • Lottery room: Clay Allen (general counsel)
  2. Orlando Magic

    • On stage: Jeff Weltman (president of basketball operations)
    • Lottery room: Joel Glass (chief communications officer)
  3. Detroit Pistons

    • On stage: Richard Hamilton (former Pistons player)
    • Lottery room: George David (assistant GM)
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder

    • On stage: Nick Collison (former Thunder player / special assistant to GM)
    • Lottery room: Sam Presti (executive VP / general manager)
  5. Indiana Pacers

    • On stage: Kelly Krauskopf (assistant GM)
    • Lottery room: Chad Buchanan (general manager)
  6. Portland Trail Blazers

    • On stage: Damian Lillard
    • Lottery room: Dewayne Hankins (president of business operations)
  7. Sacramento Kings

  8. New Orleans Pelicans

    • On stage: Swin Cash-Canal (VP of basketball operations)
    • Lottery room: David Griffin (executive VP of basketball operations)
  9. San Antonio Spurs

    • On stage: David Robinson (former Spurs player / strategic partner)
    • Lottery room: Niraj Mulji (director of basketball strategy)
  10. Washington Wizards

    • On stage: Wes Unseld Jr. (head coach)
    • Lottery room: Tommy Sheppard (president of basketball operations / general manager)
  11. New York Knicks
    • On stage: William Wesley (executive VP / senior basketball advisor)
    • Lottery room: Brock Aller (VP of basketball and strategic planning)
  12. Charlotte Hornets
  13. Cleveland Cavaliers

    • On stage: Anderson Varejao (former Cavaliers player / team ambassador)
    • Lottery room: Jon Nichols (VP of basketball strategy and personnel)

Lottery Format:

This will be the fourth year that the NBA uses its revamped lottery system, which reduces the odds that the league’s very worst teams will land a top pick and makes the top four selections available via the lottery, instead of the top three.

Before the NBA changed its lottery format, there was a 60.5% chance that one of the league’s bottom three teams would secure the No. 1 pick, and only a 27.6% chance that a team in the 5-14 range of the lottery standings would do so. Now, those odds are 42.0% and 45.5%, respectively.

The results since the new format was implemented have shown that the smoothed-out odds have the potential to create a little more mayhem on lottery night.

In 2019, the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Lakers claimed three of the top four picks despite ranking seventh, eighth, and 11th, respectively, in the lottery standings. In 2020, the Hornets and Bulls each moved up four spots, from Nos. 7 and 8 to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.

A year ago, the results were more by-the-numbers. However, the seventh spot in the lottery standings was lucky again, this time for the Raptors, who moved up to No. 4 and grabbed eventual Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.

For full details on the revamped lottery format, click here.

2022 NBA Offseason Preview: Portland Trail Blazers

After two consecutive first-round playoff losses, the Trail Blazers entered the 2021/22 season hoping that a new head coach (Chauncey Billups), a new frontcourt addition (Larry Nance Jr.), and a full season of newly re-signed swingman Norman Powell would raise their ceiling.

However, after a 10-8 start, Portland lost 14 of its next 17 games, and the last of those 17 games was the final one of Damian Lillard‘s season, as he underwent surgery to address an abdominal injury that had bothered him for years.

With their playoff hopes on life support, the Blazers changed course. New general manager Joe Cronin – who replaced president of basketball operations Neil Olshey in December following an investigation into Olshey’s workplace conduct – was given the green light to overhaul the roster prior to the trade deadline. Cronin didn’t hold back, sending Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers and Nance and CJ McCollum to New Orleans for future assets and cap flexibility.

Jusuf Nurkic (foot), Nassir Little (shoulder), and Anfernee Simons (knee) joined Lillard on the sidelines as Portland went into tank mode in the second half of the season. Following the All-Star break, the Blazers were 2-21 with an unfathomably bad -21.3 net rating, finishing with the NBA’s sixth-worst record and putting themselves in position to draft a top prospect this June.


The Trail Blazers’ Offseason Plan:

When Cronin blew up the Blazers’ roster in February, the common refrain coming out of Portland was that the team wanted to quickly retool the roster, perhaps flipping some of its newly-acquired assets before next season in an effort to get back to the playoffs. The goal wasn’t to launch a full-fledged rebuild, but to reshape the roster around players like Lillard, Little, and RFA-to-be Simons.

Avoiding a years-long tank is a noble goal, but it’s unclear whether the Blazers have the assets necessary to complete a fast turnaround. The packages they received in their deadline deals with the Clippers and Pelicans were somewhat underwhelming, especially after New Orleans made the playoffs and prevented Portland from acquiring the Pels’ 2022 first-round pick (it would’ve gone to the Blazers if it landed between Nos. 5 and 14).

The Blazers acquired Josh Hart, a solid two-way contributor, in the McCollum trade, and got Justise Winslow and Keon Johnson in their trade with the Clippers. Those players could help going forward, but they’re complementary parts, not centerpieces. The most valuable draft asset the Blazers got in their two mega-deals was Milwaukee’s top-four protected 2025 first-round pick, which will have limited trade value, given that it’s considered unlikely to be a high selection.

Theoretically, Portland has a path to significant cap room this offseason, but maximizing that space would mean shedding non-guaranteed salaries (like Hart’s), renouncing key cap holds (including Nurkic’s), and forfeiting the $20.8MM trade exception created in the McCollum deal. In other words, any move requiring cap room would force the Blazers to make some serious sacrifices, so the trade-off may not be worth it.

The Blazers’ most logical play this offseason might be to operate over the cap, re-signing Simons and Nurkic, retaining Hart, and waiving Eric Bledsoe‘s mostly non-guaranteed contract in order to create space under the tax line to take advantage of that big trade exception and/or the mid-level exception, targeting wings and strong defensive players with those exceptions.

A five-man group of Lillard, Simons, Nurkic, Hart, and Little probably isn’t a playoff-caliber starting lineup in the West, but it’s a decent starting point for the roster. With a top-10 pick, some cap exceptions, and a willingness to trade future draft assets, Portland is in position to add more talent.

Still, given how much the team is paying Lillard on his current contract and how much new deals for Simons and Nurkic could cost, there won’t be a ton of margin for error, so the Blazers are under some pressure to get this summer’s moves right.


Salary Cap Situation

Note: Our salary cap figures are based on the league’s latest projection ($122MM) for 2022/23.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Eric Bledsoe ($15,475,000) 1
  • Josh Hart ($12,960,000) 2
  • Total: $28,435,000

Restricted Free Agents

Two-Way Free Agents

Draft Picks

  • No. 7 overall pick ($5,932,440)
  • No. 36 overall pick (no cap hold)
  • No. 59 overall pick (no cap hold)
  • Total: $5,932,440

Extension-Eligible Players

Note: These are players who are either already eligible for an extension or will become eligible before the 2022/23 season begins.

  • Eric Bledsoe (veteran)
  • Damian Lillard (veteran)
  • Nassir Little (rookie scale)

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

With just $65MM in guaranteed money on their books for next season, the Blazers could theoretically create upwards of $50MM in cap room if they renounce all their free agents and exceptions, waive-and-stretch Bledsoe, and drop Hart. However, that’s probably not a realistic outcome.

It’s a safe bet that Simons isn’t going anywhere, and Hart’s deal is pretty team-friendly. If we add Simons’ cap hold and Hart’s salary to Portland’s books, that projected cap room dips to about $27MM. And if the team intends to retain Nurkic and its $20MM+ trade exception, that cap room goes away entirely.

The Blazers will have options this offseason, but they’d need a very good, specific reason to give up key assets to go under the cap. Our working assumption is that they’ll be an over-the-cap team unless an opportunity arises that they can’t pass up.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Mid-level exception: $10,349,000 4
  • Bi-annual exception: $4,050,000 4
  • Trade exception: $20,864,198
  • Trade exception: $6,519,792
  • Trade exception: $3,261,480

Footnotes

  1. Bledsoe’s salary will become fully guaranteed after July 10.
  2. Hart’s salary will become fully guaranteed after June 25.
  3. The cap holds for these players remain on the Blazers’ books from prior seasons because they haven’t been renounced. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  4. These are projected values. If the Blazers decide to go under the cap and use cap room, they’ll forfeit these exceptions (and their trade exceptions) and instead gain access to the room exception ($5,329,000).

Salary and cap information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post.

Latest On Zach LaVine’s Upcoming Free Agency

Some executives around the NBA who once viewed Zach LaVine as a lock to re-sign with the Bulls are now less certain about what the All-Star guard will do this offseason, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said in his latest Hoop Collective podcast.

“Executives in the league kind of thought that Zach LaVine was off the market, was going to stay in Chicago,” Windhorst said. “And they really thought that after Zach, at midseason, got checked out for three or four days in Southern California and he pretty much admitted he probably needed knee surgery. … Executives in the league thought, ‘Well, if the Bulls and Zach are on the same page about him playing on a hurt knee, they must have an understanding that he’s going to get a contract.’

“… Subsequently, as I’ve talked to league executives, there’s now some belief that Zach could be in play, that what a lot of people thought was a foregone conclusion of Zach staying in Chicago – on whatever deal it was going to be – may not be the case.”

As Windhorst explains, much of that uncertainty among league executives stems from comments LaVine made after the season when he discussed his upcoming unrestricted free agency. The 27-year-old said he was looking forward to being a free agent and would be “open-eyed” and “look into everything.” He was also noncommittal when asked if the Bulls were the clubhouse leaders to sign him.

There aren’t a ton of teams that make sense as suitors for LaVine, since only a small handful of clubs will have significant cap space and most of those clubs don’t project to be contenders. However, Windhorst – noting that LaVine is from Seattle – points to the Trail Blazers as one possible wild card to watch.

Theoretically, the Blazers could clear enough cap space to offer LaVine a maximum-salary deal by waiving Josh Hart and Eric Bledsoe (whose salaries aren’t fully guaranteed), renouncing Jusuf Nurkic‘s free agent cap hold, and forfeiting their $20MM+ trade exception, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks stated on The Hoop Collective. Having that path to cap room could also give them leverage to try to negotiate a sign-and-trade deal with Chicago.

“I’m not saying that’s a done deal,” Windhorst said when his ESPN colleague Nick Friedell questioned whether the Blazers would really want to pair LaVine and Damian Lillard. “I’m just saying that as I’ve talked to league executives, when they saw what LaVine said and what they see the Blazers can do, that scenario has popped up.”

While it’s possible that the Blazers or another team will make a play for LaVine this summer, a new deal with the Bulls still seems to me like the most probable outcome. As Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report observes (via Twitter), it may be in the best interest of LaVine’s camp to float potential suitors like Portland in order to ensure that the Bulls offer him a max contract.

Chicago will have the ability to offer LaVine a projected $212.3MM over five years, while any other team would be limited to a max offer of $157.4MM over four years.

Trail Blazers Name Joe Cronin Permanent GM

Joe Cronin, who has served as interim general manager of the Trail Blazers since December, will get the job on a permanent basis along with a four-year contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The team has confirmed the news in a press release.

Cronin was given a chance to audition for the role when he replaced Neil Olshey, who was fired December 3 after an investigation involving workplace conduct. Portland’s ownership group considered opening up the job to other candidates, according to Wojnarowski, but eventually decided to stick with Cronin based on his “vision for the franchise and his ability to execute it.”

Cronin has a strong bond with first-year coach Chauncey Billups, Woj adds, which convinced management that they can work together effectively in trying to rebuild the franchise.

“Joe has shown in his short time as interim GM that he is more than ready to continue leading the front office,” said Trail Blazers chair Jody Allen. “We remain excited for the future of Trail Blazers basketball with Joe and Chauncey driving a cohesive plan to build an even more competitive and winning roster.”

The Blazers are coming a disappointing 27-55 season, but Cronin took the first steps in forging a path for the future. At the trade deadline, he sent long-time fan favorite CJ McCollum to the Pelicans and moved Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers. In return, Cronin picked up some draft capital and the flexibility to create cap space if Portland wants to be aggressive on the free agent market.

Cronin will have important decisions to make this summer, Wojnarowski notes, including possible extensions for Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons, along with a potential new deal for Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers will also have a lottery pick in next month’s draft and a $21MM trade exception.

Cronin joined the organization as a basketball operations intern in 2006. He has worked with four leadership teams and was promoted to assistant general manager in 2021.

“I would like to thank Jody and (Vice Chair Bert Kolde) for this opportunity and a long list of other incredible people that have put their faith and trust in me not only over the last six months, but the last 16 years,” Cronin said. “My focus has always been creating a championship team and culture that players, coaches, and staff want to be a part of. I look forward to continuing that focus with the vision that Chauncey, (president of basketball operations Dewayne Hankins) and I share while unifying our business and basketball operations on and off the court.”