3. Portland Trail Blazers
In their ceaseless pursuit to build a contender around superstar Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers are reaching a make-or-break moment here this offseason. Although they have the chance to make a splash with the fifth-best lottery odds, the Blazers will have to compensate for losing potentially up to six key members of the rotation as Jerami Grant, Cam Reddish, Matisse Thybulle, Drew Eubanks, and Justise Winslow are all set to hit free agency.
With just shy of $70 million tied up between Lillard and Anfernee Simons alone, Portland will have to get savvy if they wish to round out the rest of their roster with productive rotation players. Perhaps one of the best routes toward accomplishing that goal lies in replacing Jusuf Nurkic in the center slot.
The Bosnian big man hasn’t looked quite as beastly as of late, as he’s failed to log even just 58 games played (70% the 82-game season) even just once in the last four years. This has massively prohibited Portland’s odds at contending even with Dame playing like an NBA legend in the making.
Adding Nikola Vucevic may be enough to justify another contention run by the Trail Blazers.
Fortunately, the Trail Blazers may be incentivized to make a deal that gives the Bulls something in return if they set their eyes on Vucevic. Since the Bulls own Portland’s next non-lottery first-round pick, the Blazers cannot trade any future draft picks until this particular pick has been conveyed. If the Blazers truly intend to go all-in around Lillard once more, they’ll need access to those picks to get the ball rolling on negotiations for championship-caliber players.
At the very least, if the Trail Blazers did pursue Vucevic to clear up their concerns at center, the Bulls would stand to benefit by adding this year’s 23rd pick, Nurkic, and presumably a few additional assets as well.