NBA draft day 2023 has finally arrived and the Portland Trail Blazers remain uncertain about how things will play out Thursday night when the time comes to either claim their prize with the No. 3 pick or ship that player off to another team.
All options remain open for the Blazers heading into this pivotal draft, an NBA source has told The Oregonian/OregonLive, with the main objective remaining to upgrade the roster around Damian Lillard.
Regardless of what the Blazers decide Thursday night, remember that draft night is merely the first step in the roster revamping process. Teams can begin negotiating with free agents on June 30, and signings and trades can be completed starting July 6.
Here is a look at what all could happen Thursday night:
1. Trade the No. 3 pick in a mega deal.
A rival team steps up with a package that the Blazers can’t refuse and Lillard finally gets an All-Star teammate to help him lead the Blazers into contention. Who could that player be? Pascal Siakam, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Mikal Bridges and Jaylen Brown all have been mentioned in trade rumor circles, but not with much conviction.
But if a player from that list were to be obtainable, Blazers general manager Joe Cronin would likely pounce.
2. Keep the player selected at No. 3.
Cronin doesn’t find a trade worthy of giving up on a talent such as Scoot Henderson (G League Ignite) or Brandon Miller (Alabama), the two prospects expected to be selected in the top three after San Antonio takes Victor Wembanyama at No. 1.
So, Cronin makes the pick and keeps the player with the plan of having Henderson or Miller paired with Shaedon Sharpe for the long term while still searching for other ways to improve the roster for Lillard.
Recent reports have had Charlotte leaning toward taking Miller at No. 2, but The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Thursday morning that the prospect of the Hornets selecting Henderson was “gaining serious momentum.”
3. Keep pick No. 3 but pull off another deal with No. 23.
Last season, the Blazers turned Milwaukee’s No. 25 pick in 2025 (acquired from New Orleans in the CJ McCollum trade) and a trade exception into Jerami Grant.
Maybe Cronin flips the No. 23 pick this year and another asset into a comparable player facing a big pay day that his team doesn’t want to take on? In this scenario, the Blazers keep their young draft pick at No. 3 but still provide Lillard with a player on Grant’s level who could help.
Maybe Phoenix center Deandre Ayton, believed to be available, could be had. Or, engage in a sign-and-trade for Washington forward Kyle Kuzma.
This move could also happen in conjunction with option No. 1.
4. Keep pick No. 3, find a deal for Anfernee Simons.
Drafting and keeping Henderson would almost assure that Simons would be traded, with just 96 backcourt minutes per game to go around. Simons could bring back at least some solid depth or an equally talented player at another position.
Simons could also work in a deal for someone such as Ayton or Kuzma. The Suns need a point guard and Simons’ $24 million salary next season would get the Blazers close to matching the $32.4 million Ayton will make next season.
Washington needs young, promising talent and could start its rebuild around Simons.
Maybe Simons is traded to his hometown of Orlando to play for the Magic and the Blazers get back center/forward Wendell Carter Jr. and another player.
Of course, this is all speculation. Such deals haven’t been tossed around in the trade rumor mill. But a deal along those lines would work for Portland.
Whatever happens, Cronin must add veteran help in some form to show Lillard that he at least tried to upgrade the team to give him a shot at winning.
If not, that could lead to option No. 5. Trade Lillard. That likely won’t happen Thursday night, but failure to make strong moves could make that a possibility down the road this offseason.