Joe Cronin and the Portland Trail Blazers were the big winners of the NBA offseason.
Give Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin some credit.
Earlier this summer, he basically said that he would do what’s best for the Portland Trail Blazers and their fans when it came to trading franchise guard Damian Lillard. He vowed to take the best deal offered. After the last few days, there’s little doubt that is exactly what the Blazers GM has done.
Cronin wasn’t influenced by anyone on where to trade Lillard. Not Damian Lillard himself. Not Pat Riley. Not Masai Ujiri. No one.
Some are saying that the race for NBA Executive of the Year is over. I’m not one of those people. I do believe he’s done a heck of a job revamping the Blazers’ roster and stockpiling assets. This was after Lillard requested a trade at the beginning of free agency back in July.
The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors were rumored to be interested in acquiring Damian Lillard at different times this summer. Many expected Lillard to end up in South Beach. Heat President Pat Riley reportedly even dared Cronin to find a better deal than his.
Cronin did exactly that. More on that in a minute.
Did the Blazers GM handle things perfectly throughout the entire process? Maybe. Maybe not. According to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, the “divorce” as he puts it between Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers became messy.
It involved Lillard’s agent Aaron Goodwin reportedly telling teams that his client would not play for anyone other than the Miami Heat. There was a significant lack of communication between the Blazers and Lillard’s camp.
Haynes also reported that there was a scenario proposed where Lillard would remain with the Trail Blazers. Cronin reportedly shot that down and said there was no coming back.
Chris Haynes is a respected NBA reporter and does great work. I can’t speak to the accuracy of details surrounding the Lillard/Blazers breakup. I can say that, in my opinion, Joe Cronin did indeed take the best-reported deal for Damian Lillard that was offered.
Here’s how he did it.