Blazers Notes: Grant, Brogdon, Williams, Ayton

Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin told reporters on Thursday that he doesn’t have a firm timeline in mind for when he expects the retooling Trail Blazers to return to the playoffs, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. However, Brian Windhorst of ESPN suggested on the latest Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube link) that one reason the team decided against trading any veterans at the deadline was a desire to push for the postseason next season.

“I actually think the Blazers are hoping, dare say, for a Rockets-like rebound, and I think they are hoping that next year they are competing for the playoffs,” Windhorst said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why you didn’t see Jerami Grant or Malcolm Brogdon (traded). Jerami Grant’s name wasn’t out there for an iota, that I heard, and Brogdon’s name never got serious.”

The Blazers had a handful of potential veteran trade candidates on their roster, including Grant, Brogdon, injured center Robert Williams, and swingman Matisse Thybulle, but ended up just making one minor deal, acquiring Dalano Banton from Boston. Cronin said he was “very content” with that outcome and that he wanted to give the current group more time to jell rather than just selling off players for draft picks.

“If there’s great value, we’ll add picks. If it’s great value, we’ll add players,” Cronin said. “But generally speaking, the deals we were pursuing were more player-oriented. Could we find a guy that provides immediate and long-term help? And is there proper value there?

“… We received lots of offers. I think it did make it somewhat more difficult to pry from us because we are happy with who we have and where we’re at. So, of course, we always want to be opportunistic and not just be thorough in this market, but have a great feel for what our options are and what’s available.”

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Head coach Chauncey Billups was happy the front office didn’t make any real changes to Portland’s roster, as Fentress relays. “A lot of people wanted Malcolm, and rightfully so, I’m one of them people,” Billups said. “So, I was happy that we were able to keep him. A lot of people wanted Rob, and rightfully so. I’m one of those people. I think when it’s our turn to actually really compete and be competitive, those are the type of dudes that you want to do it with. So I’m happy we didn’t let them slip away.”
  • According to Fentress, Cronin said one reason the front office stood pat was that he was encouraged by how the Blazers responded to an early-January stretch in which they lost six of seven games by an average margin of 33.2 points per contest. Portland won five of its next 10 after that brutal stretch and Cronin suggested he’s pleased with what he’s seen from both the veterans and youngsters: “I really like where we’re positioned. I like where we’re headed. I like what we’re capable of. I like our team. I like our staff. I like our organization. I think we’re well on our way to good things in the future.”
  • In a post-deadline column for The Athletic, Jason Quick argues that the Blazers should have made a bolder move this week, such as trading center Deandre Ayton. Ayton’s first several months in Portland were “defined by tardiness and tantrums,” according to Quick, who cites team sources. “The quicker the Blazers can move off Ayton,” Quick writes, comparing him to former Blazers center Hassan Whiteside, “the sooner I will believe this franchise is headed in the right direction.”
  • In case you missed it, the Blazers reportedly received $3MM in cash from Boston in the Banton trade.
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