The Portland Trail Blazers are in the spotlight plenty right now but not many are reasons that they want to be.
Under pressure from star point guard Damian Lillard to make moves that get him in position to make a deep playoff run, the Blazers front office will be put to the ultimate test this season.
Whether they pass may ultimately be dependent on how willing they’re willing to go to ensure that Lillard is appeased. The Blazers will also have the choice of moving Lillard himself, committing to a rebuild and sending the arguably the best player in franchise history to a certified playoff-contender.
That said, here are four early trade targets in the 2023 offseason.
5 early Blazers trade targets in 2023 NBA offseason
1. Pascal Siakam
Pascal Siakam should be the top target for the Portland Trail Blazers because even if they don’t want to move on from Damian Lillard, the youth of the Toronto Raptors may allow them to settle for Anfernee Simons instead. Settle being a rather strong word, actually, considering the talent and potential that the combo guard possesses.
Therefore, whether its Lillard or Simons running point for the Blazers next season, Siakam will take his rightful place as the power forward that Portland has been looking for. His growth as a scorer has transformed him into an All-Star and his versatility allows him to fit alongside virtually any lineup.
To that point, should the Blazers bring back veteran forward Jerami Grant, Siakam would still be a complementary player to him because of his ability to play inside-out.
In fact, a starting lineup of Lillard, Sharpe, Grant, Siakam, and Jusuf Nurkic could be the best option for Portland moving forward.
Undoubtedly, multiple picks would be exchanged in this deal, but the Blazers will be fine if that’s the case. After all, the best teams build their teams through every major avenue — drafts, free agency, and the trade market.
This is the trade that will make the ultimate difference for them.
2. Jalen Duren/James Wiseman
Detroit Pistons rookie Jalen Duren has played well this season but with the Pistons acquiring center James Wiseman, the frontcourt of the Pistons looks a bit clogged.
Wiseman, who starts over beastly Duren, is a more versatile scorer than the rookie and that’s likely why he starts. Given his and Duren’s potential, there’s question as to how the Pistons will navigate their futures. After all, Wiseman looked like a player who may be out of the league as early as last season.
Though impressive that he played well this season when he did get minutes with the Golden State Warriors and that he’s seemed to turn his career around in Detroit, Duren is just too good to keep on the bench.
Unfortunately, unless Wiseman begins to stretch his game out to 3-point range, the Pistons will have to find an elite 3-point shooter at small forward to not have the paint stuffed up like a snotty nose.
Whether they ended up with Duren or Wiseman though, the Blazers need to offer Cam Reddish and a future first-round pick in order to acquire their future starting center.
Though veteran center Jusuf Nurkic is skilled, there are few ways to provide a weak defensive backcourt with a safety net like an athletic shot-blocker.
That said, Nurkic — who’s shot 36.1 percent from 3-point range this season — could be offered to further entice the Pistons.
3. Zion Williamson
This is going to sound crazy but how much can the New Orleans Pelicans really rely on Zion Williamson moving forward?
Having played in just 29 games over the past two seasons, the former first overall pick is too important a piece for them to almost never have him available.
Would the Pelicans be willing to part ways with the dynamic forward?
Perhaps not, as even though Zion has rarely been healthy, he’s been historically dominant when he plays. In fact, the two-time All-Star hold career averages of 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game on 60.5 percent shooting since entering the league, despite less than two full seasons in that time.
While that highlights his dominance though, it also underscores his lack of availability.
In order to get Zion, there may only be one player on the roster that they would likely accept in return though.
One is rookie Shaedon Sharpe, whose displayed an enormous amount of potential and could be a future star. He also fits smoothly into their starting lineup, should CJ McCollum retain point guard duties or surrender to Sharpe, whose been manning the position in Lillard’s stead.
The question is whether or the Blazers would be willing to take the risk, as Sharpe has shined but only in a small size. Williamson’s dominance, when healthy, is unquestioned.
For the Blazers the question may simply be whether they believe they can keep him healthy.
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