Shaedon Sharpe

Chauncey Billups Discusses Challenges Created By Damian Lillard’s Trade Demand

Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups talked extensively about Damian Lillard‘s trade request and how it has affected the team in an interview with Steve Aschburner of

No significant progress has been made on a Lillard deal since he asked Portland’s front office to move him in early July. He hasn’t relented on his desire to leave, which means Billups can’t be certain what his roster will ultimately look like with training camp less than two weeks away.

“Obviously it’s unsettling, it’s difficult,” Billups said. “But for me, all I can do, I’m responsible for giving my best to who we have. I don’t know how it’s going to play out. There’s nothing I can do to control it. But I do know who we have on our team right now and who I’ve been working with this summer. Who I’m excited about. All I can really do is pour myself into our guys. And see what happens whenever that happens. I’m excited about Shaedon (Sharpe’s) progress. And coaching Scoot (Henderson) and Ant (Anfernee Simons).

“Figuring out what happens with Dame? Everybody knows how I feel about Dame and my opportunity to coach him. We’ll just see. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ll be ready to do the best I can.”

Unlike other stars who have asked to be traded, the demand hasn’t affected Lillard’s popularity, as the Portland fan base recognizes the loyalty he has shown to the franchise over the past 11 years. Billups doesn’t believe Lillard wants to do anything to hurt the organization, adding that Blazers fans will continue to cheer for him wherever he goes.

“Dame is one of the most stable human beings I’ve ever been around,” Billups added. “He’s not about any type of drama. So this whole process probably weighs very heavy on him. It’s just not who he is. But he’s at a crossroads in his career, and he’s doing what he feels is best for him and his family. I’m always going to be supportive of that.”

Billups touches on several other subjects during the interview, including:

Expectations for Henderson, who is among the favorites to win Rookie of the Year:

“Scoot is going to be a star in this league. He plays both sides of the floor with ferocity. He is very, very driven. He’s a play-maker, he’s a real point guard. Got some leadership about him. He looks like he’s the starting safety of the Denver Broncos. He’s going to be an exciting player for the whole world to watch but our fan base, they can rest assured they’ll be entertained.”

Reasons for optimism about Sharpe after a promising rookie season:

“The steps he made last year. If you watched him at the end, he was lights out. I think he’s worked very hard since then to get better. It was a small sample size, but he was playing against a lot of those teams’ No. 1 defensive player. He was getting some tough coverages and he still was getting things done. I was very impressed with him.”

Jerami Grant‘s role after getting a new five-year, $160MM contract:

“I think Jerami fits in perfectly to what we’re doing. He’s a guy who loves to play the game. Unselfish, both offensively and defensively. Plays fast. Wants to play the right way. He’s going to be perfect for our young guys. He’s excited as well to be back.”

And-Ones: Zagars, Sophomores, Super-Max, Best Offseason Deals

World Cup standout Arturs Zagars has officially signed with Turkish club Fenerbahce and has been loaned to Lithuanian team BC Wolves, as Johnny Askounis of relays. A recent report suggested that was the likely outcome for Zagars, who attracted NBA interest based in part on his strong play for Latvia at this year’s World Cup.

Zagars averaged 12.4 points, 7.4 assists, and 2.6 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game across his eight World Cup appearances, making 48.6% of his shots from the floor and 41.7% of his three-pointers. The 23-year-old, who spent last season playing in Lithuania, was named to the All-World Cup Second Team.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

And-Ones: Cunningham, Jones, Flagg, Macura, Wade

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham tops the list of potential breakout candidates for the upcoming season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Cunningham, who missed most of last season with a shin injury, dazzled while playing this month for the USA Select Team.

Wizards guard Tyus Jones, who has a chance to start after serving as a backup with the Timberwolves and Grizzlies, and Trail Blazers second-year wing Shaedon Sharpe, who put up big numbers late last season, are among the other players who make Cowley’s list.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Cooper Flagg’s decision to reclassify makes a significant impact on the 2025 draft, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The 2025 draft wasn’t considered particularly strong, so with Flagg eligible to be taken that season, that group now has more star power. Despite his unorthodox game built around defense and passing, rather than scoring prowess, Flagg is the early favorite to be the top pick of that draft.
  • J.P. Macura is signing with Happy Casa Brindisi of Italy, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link). Macura made three cameo appearances in the NBA — two games with the Hornets in 2018/19 and one with the Cavaliers the following season. Macura has played the last two seasons in Italy after a one-year stop in Turkey.
  • Dwyane Wade, who was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame on Saturday, wasn’t a slam dunk to be selected by the Heat in the lottery in 2003, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. Team president Pat Riley said the club was in need of a big but when Toronto took Chris Bosh, Wade slipped to Miami’s pick at No. 5 overall.

Scoot Henderson: “I Will Win Rookie Of The Year”

After being selected third overall in the 2023 NBA draft, Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson is confident that he’ll have a big rookie season in Portland.

“My goal, obviously, is to win Rookie of the Year,” Henderson told Playmaker (YouTube link). “And I will win Rookie of the Year. … My goals for the season are to help win a lot of games, to embrace the position I’m in, to embrace my role on the team, to be a great listener, and watching film and applying it to the next game.”

Henderson’s assertion that he’ll be the 2023/24 Rookie of the Year is just one of the lofty goals he expressed during the Playmaker interview. He also said he wants to eventually “be remembered as the best point guard to ever play the game.”

Henderson’s professional career got off to a promising start at the Las Vegas Summer League, where he put up 15 points, six assists, and five rebounds in just 21 minutes before exiting the Trail Blazers’ first game due to a shoulder injury. There’s no indication that he won’t be fully healthy by the time training camp begins this fall.

Still, before he begins chasing his most ambitious career goals, Henderson may have to achieve a more modest one: cracking Portland’s starting lineup. Even if Damian Lillard is traded, Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe appear to be the favorites to open the season as the starters in the Blazers’ backcourt, a league source tells Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

Of course, Henderson figures to have a major role even if he’s coming off the bench, and it’s possible he’ll show enough this fall that it will be impossible for the club to keep him out of its starting five.

Henderson also figures to face stiff competition in the ’23/24 Rookie of the Year race. The betting favorite is No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama, while last year’s No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren is also considered a strong contender for the award.

Blazers Rumors: No. 3 Pick, Lillard, Adebayo, George, Zion

Like his ESPN colleague Jonathan Givony, Brian Windhorst has been hearing that the Trail Blazers haven’t been enamored with the trade offers they’ve been getting for the No. 3 pick in this Thursday’s draft. Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up on Tuesday (YouTube link), Windhorst discussed the situation in Portland and how it could affect star guard Damian Lillard.

“In discussions with teams in the last couple of days, the Blazers have started to maybe indicate that they won’t trade the No. 3 pick and that they may end up deciding to draft a player there, whether it be Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller, because they aren’t necessarily in love with the options they’re getting offer for No. 3,” Windhorst said.

As Windhorst notes, Lillard has repeatedly expressed his loyalty to the Trail Blazers, but he has also spoken in recent months about not wanting to be part of a rebuild in Portland and his hope that the team can add impact veterans.

“I checked in on the Lillard side of things about whether or not there’d been a change of heart there and I was told unequivocally, ‘No,'” Windhorst said. “Dame does not want a youth movement. He wants to play with veterans. He wants the team to upgrade fast and immediately with veteran players that can help him now.”

There are other ways besides trading the No. 3 pick for the Blazers to add veteran talent this summer, Windhorst acknowledges, so if Portland keeps and uses its lottery pick on Thursday, that doesn’t necessarily mean Lillard will immediately make a trade request.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports makes this point too, writing in his latest story that the Blazers “view this entire offseason as their canvas” to upgrade their roster around Lillard and don’t necessarily feel it has to happen entirely during the draft. For now, it still appears that Dame’s preference is to remain in Portland and that the club hasn’t shown any willingness to discuss trading Lillard, says Fischer.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Portland is preparing what the front office considers a “compelling” offer for Heat big man Bam Adebayo, a source tells Fischer. While that may be true, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Miami would accept such a deal, given that the Heat view Adebayo as a long-term cornerstone and want to acquire Lillard themselves rather than help the Blazers keep him. For what it’s worth, Fischer suggests that any Portland offer for Adebayo would almost certainly have to include Shaedon Sharpe in addition to the No. 3 pick and Anfernee Simons to even get Miami to think about it.
  • While Adebayo may not be attainable, he’s the sort of “premium” player the Trail Blazers are targeting in talks involving their lottery pick, Fischer writes, naming Clippers forward Paul George as another example of a player the team would like to land.
  • League sources tell Fischer that the Blazers don’t “truly covet” either of the Raptors forwards they’ve been linked to (Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby) in a deal for the No. 3 selection. Bulls guard Zach LaVine and Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns also aren’t considered legitimate targets, Fischer adds.
  • The Blazers and Pelicans have discussed Zion Williamson, per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, but New Orleans hasn’t made a formal offer involving Williamson and may want more than just the No. 3 pick for him, per Fischer.

Fischer’s Latest: Hornets, Blazers, Sharpe, Middleton, Pacers

Many league executives believe the 2023 NBA draft could feature several first-round trades, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Fischer writes that there is widespread uncertainty surrounding the draft outside of Victor Wembanyama at No. 1, and examines the situations for the Nos. 2-10 picks.

The Hornets, who control the No. 2 pick, will be hosting Overtime Elite twins Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson for workouts on Friday, followed by G League Ignite’s Scoot Henderson on Sunday and Alabama’s Brandon Miller next Tuesday, league sources tell Fischer.

Charlotte is widely expected to ultimately choose between Miller or Henderson, with the twins ranking just behind them on ESPN’s big board. However, it’s certainly not a consensus like No. 1.

The Hornets have an additional layer of certainty as well, with rumors that owner Michael Jordan might look to sell his majority stake in the franchise. A new ownership group could look to hire a new president of basketball operations and head coach.

That has some Charlotte staffers wondering about the fates of Mitch Kupchak and Steve Clifford, as they each only have one guaranteed season left on their respective contracts, per Fischer.

Here’s more from Fischer on the draft and free agency:

  • Rival front offices are skeptical that the Trail Blazers will have a deal lined up to trade No. 3 before they’re on the clock on June 22, Fischer writes. Part of that is the uncertainty at No. 2, because a team trading up to No. 3 would presumably be targeting either Miller or Henderson, and they don’t yet know who will be available. In early trade talks, the Blazers are sending signals to rivals that Shaedon Sharpe will not be part of a possible package with the No. 3 pick, per Fischer’s sources. Sharpe was the No. 7 overall pick last year and showed flashes of brilliance with his incredible athleticism and smooth shot-making, but he’s inconsistent and just turned 20 years old, while star Damian Lillard is 32.
  • Although he has been linked to the Rockets, who are fielding offers for No. 4, looking to improve, and project to have the most cap room in the league this summer, rival executives believe Bucks wing Khris Middleton is likely to sign a long-term contract with Milwaukee this summer, according to Fischer. The three-time All-Star has a $40.4MM player option for next season. As Fischer notes, Middleton reportedly met with finalists for the Bucks’ coaching vacancy before they hired Adrian Griffin.
  • The Pacers continue to express interest in finding a starting power forward, sources tell Fischer. Indiana controls five picks in the upcoming draft, including No. 7 overall.

Blazers Rumors: Grant, Thybulle, Reddish, No. 3 Pick, Sharpe, More

Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant still appears on track to become a free agent this offseason rather than accepting the maximum four-year, $113MM extension he can sign until June 30. Appearing on the HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto, Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report said he doesn’t expect the annual salary on Grant’s next deal to be worth more than about $30MM, but suggests that the forward may be waiting until free agency in order to get a fifth year from Portland.

“I think it’s going to come out around five years, $150 million, with probably a player option,” Highkin said. “I know he gets talked about as one of the top free agents on the market, but I’d expect that gets done pretty quickly. It might even be a (6:01 pm) on June 30th type of signing.”

As for restricted free agents Matisse Thybulle and Cam Reddish, Highkin views Thybulle as the player who is more likely to re-sign with the Blazers, suggesting that the former Sixer will be a priority for the front office. Highkin is less certain about Portland’s appetite for a new deal with Reddish, telling Scotto that the team would probably have interest in bringing back the former lottery pick if the price is right.

Here are more highlights from the conversation between Scotto and Highkin:

  • Scotto has gotten the sense that the Trail Blazers are comfortable keeping the No. 3 overall pick and drafting either Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson, even as they plan to continue building around Damian Lillard. However, Highkin believes Portland is far more likely to trade the pick for an established veteran, mentioning two-way forwards like Jaylen Brown and Pascal Siakam as potential targets while downplaying the likelihood of the club pursuing offensive-minded players like Zach LaVine. Another Raptors forward, OG Anunoby, has also been linked to the Blazers and would be a good fit on the roster, but Highkin doesn’t expect Portland to give up the No. 3 pick for Anunoby.
  • There are some people in Portland who believe Shaedon Sharpe has All-Star potential, according to Scotto. Highkin agrees that the Blazers are high on Sharpe and expects he’ll be kept out of any trade that doesn’t return a superstar (Joel Embiid or something like that”). Anfernee Simons is the more likely trade candidate, Highkin explains, given his larger cap hit and his fit next to Lillard. Sharpe, who has more size and defensive upside than Simons, is the more logical long-term backcourt partner for Dame.
  • The Blazers may make some changes to their coaching staff this summer to give Chauncey Billups some more experienced assistants, Highkin notes. The organization remains optimistic about Billups’ potential as a head coach and wants to give him an opportunity to lead a more competitive roster, Highkin adds.
  • When the Blazers signed Jusuf Nurkic to a four-year, $70MM contract last offseason, that didn’t necessarily mean they thought he was their center of the future, according to Highkin, who believes the team is “very open” to moving Nurkic and will explore trade possibilities this summer. Highkin suggests that Nurkic’s willingness to be shut down with a leg injury in 2021/22 when Portland went into tank mode played a part in Portland’s decision to “take care” of him in free agency last summer.

NBA Announces All-Rookie Teams

Rookie of the Year winner Paolo Banchero was a unanimous choice for the 2022/23 All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced today (via Twitter).

Players receive two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote, and Banchero received the maximum possible 200 points.

Here’s the full five-man squad, listed in order of their total points received via voters:

The All-Rookie Second Team was announced as well, with a couple of teammates headlining the group (Twitter link).

In my opinion, the most surprising omission from the All-Rookie Second Team was Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard, who received 46 points. Nembhard was actually listed on one more ballot than Eason, but Eason received two First Team votes versus Nembhard’s zero, giving him a narrow edge.

That’s not to say Eason (or anyone else) was undeserving — he had a strong season as a tenacious offensive rebounder and defender. I just thought Nembhard should have been honored because he started the majority of the season for a competitive Indiana team and was frequently tasked with guarding the opposing teams’ best player, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes (via Twitter).

According to the NBA (Twitter link), others receiving votes included Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe (36), Hawks wing AJ Griffin (26), Nuggets forward Christian Braun, Thunder center Jaylin Williams (seven), Mavericks guard Jaden Hardy (four), Spurs guard Malaki Branham (three), Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (two), Hornets center Mark Williams (two) and Bucks wing MarJon Beauchamp (one).

In case you missed it, more NBA awards will be coming later this week. The All-Defensive teams will be announced on Tuesday, followed by All-NBA on Wednesday and the Teammate of the Year award on Thursday.

And-Ones: Taxpayers, Cap Room, Traded Cash, Sims, Lue, More

Prior to the trade deadline, 10 NBA teams projected to be taxpayers this season and the 20 non-taxpayers were each projected to receive $17.2MM as a result of those tax penalties, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

However, one of those 10 taxpayers – the Sixers – ducked below the tax line with a deadline deal, and the NetsKevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trades reduced Brooklyn’s projected end-of-season tax bill by approximately $100MM, Marks notes. As a result of those changes, among others, the luxury tax distribution at the end of the season will now be split among 21 teams and will be worth a projected $14.5MM, based on current team salaries, says Marks.

Danny Leroux of The Athletic also considers the financial impact of a busy trade deadline week, though he’s looking ahead to the offseason, breaking down which teams project to have the most cap room in the summer of 2023.

Leroux anticipates there will be eight teams with the ability to generate significant cap space, ranging from the Rockets at $61MM to the Pacers at $28MM. The Spurs ($40-48MM), Jazz ($31-45MM), Magic ($22-58MM), Hornets ($27-37MM), Thunder ($31MM), and Pistons ($30MM) are also in position to operate under the cap, Leroux writes. The range in projections for some of those teams is related to decisions on options and non-guaranteed salaries.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report has the details on the cash that changed hands at the trade deadline. In a series of tweets, Pincus reports that the Lakers sent $2MM to Magic in the Mohamed Bamba trade, the Suns sent $1MM to the Thunder in the Darius Bazley trade, the Clippers sent $1MM to the Hornets in the Mason Plumlee trade, and the Nets sent $1.36MM to the Pacers in the four-team Durant blockbuster.
  • Who will be available on the buyout market in the coming weeks? John Hollinger of The Athletic lists and ranks 32 buyout candidates (or players who have already been cut), starting with veteran guards Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson.
  • Circling back to a pair of pre-deadline stories: Knicks center Jericho Sims has committed to take part in this year’s dunk contest after Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe dropped out, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). And Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue will replace Suns head coach Monty Williams as an assistant on Steve Kerr‘s Team USA coaching staff, per a press release.
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger said this week that his company doesn’t plan to sell ESPN, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic, who adds that Iger expressed a desire for ESPN to retain NBA rights when the league negotiates its next media deal.

Scotto’s Latest: Nets, Bridges, Grizzlies, Blazers, Lewis, Raptors, Spurs

The Nets have already officially completed one blockbuster trade this week and have agreed to another, but the belief around the NBA is that they’re not done dealing yet. Five executives tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that they’re prepared for Brooklyn to break up a glut of wings before Thursday’s trade deadline.

After acquiring Dorian Finney-Smith from Dallas, the Nets are poised to add Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Jae Crowder to a group of wings that already includes Royce O’Neale and shooters like Joe Harris, Seth Curry, and Patty Mills. Crowder is known to be available, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last night, but it’s a safe bet the Nets will be getting inquiries on several other players too.

According to Scotto, several teams – including the Grizzlies – have called the Nets to ask about Bridges. In addition to talking to Brooklyn about Bridges, Memphis has spoken to the Raptors about OG Anunoby and has expressed a willingness to give up multiple first-round picks for either player, Scotto reports. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) has heard the Nets would be able to secure up to three first-rounders for Bridges if they’re willing to flip him.

While the terms of the Durant and Irving deals suggest the Nets are comfortable stockpiling draft picks, the team will likely be on the lookout for promising young players on rookie contracts too — league sources tell Scotto that Brooklyn tried to get Josh Green and Jaden Hardy from Dallas as part of the Irving trade.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • The Trail Blazers are among the teams with interest in Raptors forward OG Anunoby, and Blazers guards Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons both have fans in Toronto, Scotto says. However, Portland would be reluctant to part with Sharpe in particular, since the team believes the rookie has All-Star upside, per Scotto.
  • The Pelicans, another one of the teams talking to the Raptors about Anunoby, have dangled draft pick compensation as the centerpiece of potential offers for the Toronto forward. Scotto confirms that New Orleans is willing to move Naji Marshall, Jaxson Hayes, and/or Devonte’ Graham, and adds Kira Lewis to the list of Pelicans players who are available in trade discussions.
  • Scotto has the details on the draft picks the Raptors are sending the Spurs in the Jakob Poeltl trade, reporting that the 2024 first-round pick will be top-six protected through 2026, while the two second-rounders headed to San Antonio are Toronto’s 2023 and 2025 picks.