One pundit already calls General Manager Joe Cronin his pick for Executive of the Year.
The Portland Trail Blazers have made their second major trade of the week, this one sending recently required Jrue Holiday to the Boston Celtics. In return, the Blazers received Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, a Golden State Warriors 2024 first-round pick and a Celtics 2029 first-round pick.
Many publications and writers are chiming in with their grades for the deal. Here’s a rundown of Portland’s newest report card.
Zach Harper is Intrigued by Williams and Ayton
Zach Harper of The Athletic [subscription required] gave the Blazers an A- for the trade, but specifically highlighted how much he was interested in the fit and versatility of having centers Deandre Ayton and Williams playing together.
A pick-and-roll with Scoot Henderson as the initiator, Williams as the vertical threat rolling and Ayton in the dunker’s spot or stretched for a dump-off or a short little jumper could be a tough play for opponents to stop as long as they’re surrounded by outside shooting to space it out. None of these fits are perfect, but they’re intriguing. That’s part of what you want when it comes to a fresh rebuild.
Harper mentioned that this trade is essentially a part of the Damian Lillard trade and that it is impossible to look at this deal by itself without considering the initial trade. He said that the return for Lillard, bolstered by this trade and a potential future Brogdon trade, is a great outcome for the Blazers.
CBS Sports Loves the Future Assets
Jasmyn Wimbish of CBS Sports gave the Blazers an A in the deal. She talked about the future assets the Blazers acquired in the Lillard deal and added to with this subsequent trade.
As a standalone trade, this was already a solid deal for the Blazers, and when you factor in the rest of what Portland got from trading Lillard, this is a home run. It stocks Portland’s war chest for the future, and it also keeps them semi-competitive right now.
The Blazers now own the rights to the Warriors’ pick in 2024, the Celtics and Bucks’ first-round picks in 2029, and first-round pick swap rights with the Bucks in 2028 and 2030.
Sports Illustrated Gives Cronin Credit
Rohan Nadkarni from Sports Illustrated gave Portland an A- for the deal. He also gave credit to Trail Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin for being patient and finding a market for Lillard when it seemed like there may not be one.
Joe Cronin deserves credit for his patience and creating a market for Dame when for months it seemed as though Miami was the only game in town. And I still think there is more room for the Blazers to wheel and deal here.
Nadkarni mentions the haul is good for Lillard, but that it might not even be finished after reports about the Blazers shopping Brogdon.
ESPN Likes the Package of Picks
Kevin Pelton of ESPN+ [subscription required] graded the Blazers with an A- for their trade with the Celtics. Pelton mentioned the difficulty of separating this trade and grade from the Lillard one as a whole, but said the picks Portland got from both trades could help them have a good chance with at least one panning out.
Still, the real carrot of this deal for Portland is diversifying the team’s portfolio of draft picks. The three extra first-rounders the Blazers have added in their pair of deals come from three different teams, giving Portland multiple shots at landing a lottery pick.
Brad Botkin Takes Things a Step Further
Saving the best for last, at least in terms of optimism for Portland, we present to you CBS Sports’ Brad Botkin and his latest column. Botkin didn’t give the Blazers a grade. Instead, after taking some shots at Miami Heat fans for the delusion they showed much of the summer, Botkin made a statement: Cronin should win NBA Executive of the Year for the upcoming season.
In other words, just be quiet, Heat homers. Cronin played this perfectly, and in doing so, in my eyes, he’s already locked up executive of the year. I mean, on top of all the future assets he banked, the guy drafted what could be an All-NBA point guard in Henderson and still has a team that can actually compete while Henderson and Sharpe continue to develop.
Indeed, the Blazers look like last year’s Jazz, who filled their war chest with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert trades while also putting a surprisingly competitive team on the floor. Look at the top of the Blazers’ roster: Henderson, Sharpe, Simons, Jerami Grant, Ayton, Williams, Brogdon, Matisse Thybulle and Kris Murray.
To sum it all up, Portland’s report card for the trade reads: A-, A, A-, A-, and an early endorsement for Cronin’s Executive of the Year campaign.