Blazers Notes: Ayton, Lillard, Brogdon, Grant, Sharpe

Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups is thrilled about the team’s acquisition of Deandre Ayton and believes the former No. 1 overall pick will benefit from a change of scenery, he said on Monday, per Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link).

“I always have a unique perspective because of my playing career,” said Billups, who played for four teams in his first five NBA seasons before finding a long-term home in Detroit. “Sometimes it’s just time for a change. I think that was probably what happened with him (in Phoenix). For me, I’m really excited about DA. He’s already a top-five center in the league and there are so many levels he can get to. We’ve got to help him reach his potential. That’s my responsibility as a coach.”

As Vincent Goodwill writes for Yahoo Sports, the Trail Blazers believe Ayton still has a ton of potential and view him as a talented offensive player capable of playing winning basketball.

The 25-year-old appears to be just as excited about his new home as Portland is to acquire him, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. As Fentress writes, in a social media video of Ayton’s first visit to the Blazers’ facility after the trade, the big man said he was “so glad to be here,” adding that he feels like he “just got drafted.”

“I’m at an organization that wants me and wants me to succeed,” Ayton said on media day on Monday, per Fentress (Twitter link). “So, there’s a lot more passion when you feel that mentally and you know you’ve seen that physically as well. So, there’ll be a lot more grit and a lot more domination.”

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • A report in the wake of the Damian Lillard trade suggested that the star guard – realizing he likely wouldn’t end up in Miami – asked general manager Joe Cronin last month if he could withdraw his trade request and return to Portland, and Cronin told him no. Asked today about that claim, Cronin offered his version of events: “I told him I personally thought it was a bad idea. The trade request had not been rescinded” (Twitter link via Highkin).
  • After trading away Lillard and Jrue Holiday, the Blazers don’t sound like they’re rushing back to the market to move Malcolm Brogdon. “We want to have Malcolm come here and be a part of this,” Cronin said on Monday, per Highkin (Twitter link). “He can bring some good on-court intangibles for us and also as a veteran, which is something we’re going to need. We have a very young roster. I want to make sure there’s enough veteran leadership around these guys.”
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype listed a handful of potential trade partners for the Trail Blazers if they do decide to deal Brogdon.
  • Veteran Blazers forward Jerami Grant, who signed a new five-year, $160MM contract with the club in July, admitted it was “definitely a shock” to realize he won’t be playing with Lillard going forward but said that it’s “part of the business” and that he’s comfortable moving forward with the current group. “Joe and (Blazers owner) Jody (Allen) have been doing a great job,” Grant said (Twitter link via Highkin). “I’m fine.”
  • With Lillard gone, there may be an opening for young wing Shaedon Sharpe to move into the Blazers’ starting lineup, but he said on Monday that he’s not worried about whether he starts or whether he ends up playing at the two or three, according to Highkin (Twitter links). “It doesn’t really matter to me, for real,” he said. Sharpe also told reporters that he expects to play for Team Canada in the 2024 Olympics.
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