The Bulls have a lock on the Blazers’ future

United Center (photo from Wikimedia).

The Portland Trail Blazers owe Chicago a lottery-protected 1st round pick. Until the pick changes hands, Portland can’t trade another 1.

Thanks to the trade of former general manager Neil Olshey, the Portland Trail Blazers owe Chicago a lottery-protected first-round pick. Until this deal is made, the Blazers cannot trade their future first-round pick until 2029.

It’s a sticky situation for current GM Joe Cronin. Because of NBA rules that say teams can’t trade first-round picks in consecutive years, the Portland Trail Blazers have been left in limbo because they don’t know when Chicago will exercise their option.

That’s the trade that brought Larry Nance Jr. to Rip City. Chicago received a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick in the deal.

Portland was in the 2022 lottery, so it moved to 2023. And the Trail Blazers were once again a lottery team. This pick could slide to 2028 if Portland stays in the lottery.

Somehow, Chicago is holding the Blazers hostage. But Portland has several exits, as Cronin said in his post-deadline press conference in February.

“Chicago and I talk pretty much every trade window that says, “Hey, would you be open to that if I had to?”, we’re setting a real light base where “I’ll call you if things heat up.”

“It’s negotiable, that’s what we’re working on, whether we trade the defense for a certain year and give it away or whether we somehow incentivize it just to get the full pick back. It could be a player, it could be all kinds of variations.”

That’s probably why he acquired a 2023 first-round pick from New York in the Josh Hart trade. Probably because Chicago hasn’t agreed to pick up the pick yet.

The Bulls do not have a first-round pick in the 2023 Draft. It’s easy to say they should go with the 23rd overall pick, but they may decide to play the longer game.

Even with a top-three pick, the Portland Trail Blazers aren’t exactly a title contender. At best, they are top six in the Western Conference. That probably puts their first round pick around 18.

18 is better than 23, but this year’s draft class is much deeper than the projected 2024 class. It’s possible for the Blazers to go out, take the lead, and lose their first series. That means they have about 15 choices.

Any lesser performance and Portland is back in the lottery. Then in 2025-28: wash, rinse, repeat.

That’s why they didn’t cash out. The Portland Trail Blazers are floundering on the trade market without the ability to trade a future first-round pick.

The more desperate Portland gets, the more the Bulls can get from them. It’s a good plan, provided Chicago can wait year after year. One thing that plays in the Bulls’ favor is that Damian Lillard wants to win now, so they will be motivated to complete this trade with a destroyer.

Portland Trail Blazers.  news that KAT is going to Rip City

Unless the Portland Trail Blazers decide to blow it all up, the ball will be on the sidelines in Chicago’s court.

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