Trail Blazers Can't Afford to Mess Up Damian Lillard Trade
If Joe Cronin is truly prioritizing the future of the franchise, he has to be prepared to send Lillard somewhere other than his preferred destination of Miami.
This is a big spot Joe Cronin is in. The biggest since he took over as the Trail Blazers' general manager 18 months ago.
As a GM, you never want to be in a position where you have to trade a player as good, or that has meant as much to your franchise and city, as Damian Lillard. And when you're forced to, it's a decision you can't mess up.
By now, everyone knows the situation. Cronin talked at every turn over the past year about wanting to make aggressive upgrades around Lillard to build a contender. He hasn't been able to deliver on those promises and instead drafted a point guard with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft; because of that, Lillard officially requested a trade over the weekend.
Lillard and his representatives have left no doubt that the only place he wants to be traded is Miami. The Heat have a package to offer that can charitably be described as "uninspiring." So, there's a problem.
How Cronin navigates that problem, and if he's truly willing to make a deal with another team for a better return despite an escalating, increasingly public negotiation, will determine whether the post-Lillard era of the franchise under his watch will be more successful than the last two seasons have been.