Portland Trail Blazers: Is Joe Cronin’s master plan playing out perfectly?

Portland Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
Portland Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports) /

As the Damian Lillard talks continue to gain traction, we explore what Portland Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin’s master plan might be. 

The Damian Lillard trade saga has been one of the more mysterious and unpredictable storylines of the offseason. And with the start of NBA Training Camps just a few days away, the hope is that the end of the Lillard trade saga is not far off. However, at the same time, there’s no guarantee that it will conclude in the next few days.

While the unpredictability of this entire situation may be frustrating for nearly every side involved, it could be part of Blazers general manager Joe Cronin’s master plan. And if it is, you can’t blame him.

Because of the tactic that Damian Lillard and his camp elected to use in an attempt to try to force his way to the Miami Heat, the little leverage that the Blazers had was all but gone. However, the uncertainty of this entire situation, with the season drawing closer and closer, has somewhat given Cronin the upper hand recently.

Whether the Heat want to believe it or not, Cronin is working the phones and doing his best at drawing up as much interest in Lillard. Word is that he’s accomplished that and has made strides on that end with the Toronto Raptors.

Over the last few days, the Raptors’ interest in Lillard has grown and there very well be a path for a deal. In the eyes of some, Toronto is viewed as somewhat the favorite to land Lillard. Again, the unpredictability of this entire situation is Cronin’s advantage.

In an ideal world, Joe Cronin’s master plan works out for all parties involved

With the way Lillard trade talks have progressed, there is an ideal way this all plays out. Cronin has done his job in creating a market for Lillard when the belief was that there wasn’t one. At this point, Lillard and his camp have to hope that Cronin now goes back to the Heat and gives them an opportunity to truly negotiate – against Toronto’s framework.

All noise aside, Lillard wants to be in Miami and I have a hard time believing Portland is just going to ignore that. At the very least, they owe it to Lillard to give the Heat a shot at a conversation. I believe they’ll get that.

And having the Raptors and Heat potentially bid against each other over the next few days wouldn’t be the worst plan in the world.

If this is indeed Cronin’s master plan, it’s playing out brilliantly. Cronin created a market when there wasn’t one and with the way things are trending, it could be exactly what was needed to get the Heat to up their offer.

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If public perception is any indication, it’s exactly what may end up happening. Cronin may very well be on the verge of getting the Heat to up their offer. That may be the endgame goal here. Of course, that’s if Cronin even goes back to the Heat. The fact that we don’t know he will for sure tell us everything we need to know about how well Cronin has fought his way out of a corner.