The First Domino Falls: Blazers Swing Trade for Jerami Grant
Joe Cronin's offseason overhaul begins in earnest.
It was almost a cliche to joke about members of the U.S. men's national team trying to recruit each other during the Tokyo Olympics last July. Team USA has been a fertile ground for tampering and the formation of superteams in the past, be it Miami's big three taking shape on the Redeem Team in 2008 or Kevin Durant becoming friends with Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala while playing in Turkey in 2010. (Shameless plug alert: I wrote a deep dive on that 2010 national team around its 10th anniversary a couple years ago.)
Last summer, Damian Lillard was the focus of much of that speculation. After the Blazers' first-round loss to a shorthanded Denver team, a disastrous coaching search and their then-general manager's lack of interest in trying to make roster improvements, Lillard was sending more signals than he ever had before about his willingness to leave Portland, and there was no shortage of talk about which of his USA teammates were trying to recruit him.
It turns out Lillard was playing the recruiting game all along, and as first reported by ESPN on Wednesday afternoon, the Blazers traded a few down-the-road picks to Detroit to reunite him with Olympic teammate Jerami Grant.