Portland Trail Blazers Mull Trading #3 Pick in Upcoming Draft

Posted on: June 20, 2023, 10:29h. 

Last updated on: June 20, 2023, 11:10h.

The Portland Trail Blazers are fielding trade offers from teams interested in acquiring the #3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Brooklyn Nets are potential trade partners with the Trail Blazers.

Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, seen here at the Moda Center in Portland, has been the subject of trade rumors leading up to the NBA Draft. (Image: Getty)

Trade rumors always flare up in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, which is scheduled for Thursday evening in Chicago.

Multiple teams tanked during the regular season to improve their chances to acquire French wunderkind Victor Wembanyama. The San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Draft Lottery and the right to select Wembanyama with the #1 pick. He is one of the best big-man prospects in more than 25 years.

Scoot Henderson, the top guard prospect in the upcoming draft, spent a season in the NBA Developmental League. Henderson is currently the betting favorite to get selected #2 overall at -250 odds. The Charlotte Hornets have multiple options with the #2 pick, including trade discussions with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Brandon Miller, the top forward in the 2023 draft class, played a one-and-done season at Alabama, and was recognized as the SEC Player of the Year. Miller is projected to become the #3 pick, and he’s -250 odds to get selected third overall.

Shams: Damian Lillard Staying in Portland

Before the Portland Trail Blazers make any pre-draft transactions, they had to make a decision on the future of Damian Lillard. The All-Star guard remained in Rip City even though he could have bounced in free agency or forced a trade. He’s the rare modern player who wants to spend his entire career playing for the team who drafted him.

Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards was in a similar position before the Wizards. That’s before the team finally parted ways with the All-Star on Sunday and traded him to the Phoenix Suns. The Miami Heat were one of the finalists to land Beal in a trade, but after they lost out to the Suns, the Heat turned their sights toward acquiring Lillard.

The Heat are desperate to add a high-volume scorer and additional playmaker to their roster, and Lillard is a perfect match on paper.

Shams Charania from The Athletic appeared on the “Pat McAfee Show” and shared his insight into the Lillard situation.

Damian Lillard has left everything up to Portland,” said Charania. “He wants to be there, and he wants that team to get better.”

All signs indicate that the Trail Blazers don’t intend to trade Lillard, despite the Heat’s hot pursuit. Now that they’re keeping Lillard, the front office is seeking to build a title contender around him.

DraftKings posted a prop bet about which team Lillard will play for at the start of the 2023-24 season. The Trail Blazers are the betting favorite at -215 odds, and the Heat are +140 odds to add Lillard.

Blazers Could Trade Both First-Round Picks

Lillard, 32, struggled with injuries during the last two seasons and doesn’t have too many peak years remaining in his career before his skills begin to decline.

The Trail Blazers are in “win now” mode, and don’t have time to develop prospects, which is why they’re interested in packaging multiple draft picks to acquire top veterans in a trade before the NBA Draft.

The Trail Blazers secured the #3 pick via the Draft Lottery. They also acquired the #23 overall pick when they traded swingman Josh Hart to the New York Knicks in February. The Trail Blazers have one second-round pick as well, which is #43 overall.

The Trail Blazers could package their first-round picks with a couple of young stars on their roster. That includes guard Anfernee Simons (21.1 points, 4.1 assists per game) and forward Shaedon Sharpe (9.9 ppg), who was the #7 pick in last year’s draft.

The logical move is to find a team that wants Alabama’s Miller so badly with the #3 pick that they’re willing to part ways with some of their best veterans in a trade with the Trail Blazers.

Veterans Wanted in Rip City

The Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Brooklyn Nets are among the potential trade partners with the Trail Blazers.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns has been linked to trade rumors involving the Knicks. The Trail Blazers would like to dump center Jusuf Nurkic’s hefty contract while improving their starting center spot with a trade for Towns.

Boston Celtics guards Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart have been the subject of trade rumors this off-season, and there have been rumblings that Brown would join the Trail Blazers in a package deal for the #3 pick and Simons.

Pascal Siakim from the Toronto Raptors is another potential trade target for the Trail Blazers. The Raptors have a new head coach in Darko Rajakovic, and they’re on the verge of rebuilding their team after Fred Van Vleet opted for free agency. The combo of Simons and Miller in a trade for Siakim is a potential rebuilding path for the Raptors.

With so many top offensive teams in Western Conference, any legit contender from the West needs a defensive stopper. The Suns dealt forward Mikal Bridges to the Brooklyn Nets in the blockbuster trade for Kevin Durant. Bridges was well-regarded as a top defender who can cover both guards and forwards. But he also put his offensive skills on display in Brooklyn in the last quarter of the season. Bridges is an ideal two-way player if the Trail Blazers are serious about building a championship-caliber team around Lillard.

Betting the Trail Blazers Next Season

The Trail Blazers finished in 13th place in the Western Conference standings with a 33-49 record in 2022-23. They missed the playoffs for the second-straight season, marking only the third time in Lillard’s career that he failed to make a postseason appearance.

Lillard won the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2012-13. But the Trail Blazers were only 33-49 and missed the playoffs in his first year in the NBA.

The Trail Blazers qualified for the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons following Lillard’s rookie campaign. However, the Trail Blazers were eliminated five times in the first round since they drafted Lillard.

In the 2018-19 season, Lillard led the Trail Blazers to 53 wins and the #2 seed out West. They locked up a trip to the Western Conference finals, but were swept by the Golden State Warriors. That was the farthest that Blazers advanced in the postseason with Lillard. Since that apex in the 2019 playoffs, the Trail Blazers won three total playoff games in the last four seasons. They finished in 13th place in the last two seasons and didn’t even have a shot at the play-in tournament.

The Trail Blazers are currently +12000 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship, according to DraftKings.

The Trail Blazers are +6500 odds to win the Western Conference and they’re near the bottom of the futures board. Only the San Antonio Spurs (+10000), Utah Jazz (+15000), and Houston Rockets (+15000) have longer conference title odds.

Lillard is +2200 odds to win the NBA MVP next season. He’s ranked #12 on DraftKings’ NBA awards board. Lillard is listed behind Trae Young from the Atlanta Hawks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from the Oklahoma City Thunder.