Blazers GM discusses trade moves, GPII controversy

Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 8:57 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The Blazers were certainly active ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline but did Portland get any better for the rest of this season?

“Worked it super hard, came up empty,” said Blazers general manager Joe Cronin during a Friday press conference

The second trade deadline as GM has come and gone for Joe Cronin.

“We want to be championship level as soon as possible so for us -- it’s disappointing. We want to get there, and we would love to have a team out here tonight that is ready to rock and we’re borderline anxious to push all of our chips in, we can’t wait for that moment to happen,” Cronin said. “It just hasn’t come up yet.”

Now 56 games in, this Blazer team is hovering around .500 and flirting with a play-in seed. The west only got tougher, Dame isn’t getting younger, so why make the moves now for two more expiring contracts and a slew of draft picks?

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“We feel extremely obligated to put a great roster around Damian Lillard and when I say ‘we’ that’s to the top. Jody [Allen] and I have had a lot of conversations about how important it is for us to do right by Damian, and we plan to do that,” Cronin said.

Cam Reddish was in the starting lineup -- Ryan Arcidiacono was active too. Meanwhile, Matisse Thybulle and Kevin Knox should be available for Monday.

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“It doesn’t always fall into place immediately, we understand the timeline is short as far as we want this runway to be as long as possible for him but at the same time, as long as the intentions are in the right place, we are willing to wait it out for that terrific opportunity to present itself,” Cronin said.

Opportunities presented themselves to some of Portland’s conference rivals like Phoenix, Dallas, Los Angeles and Minnesota, just to name a few.

“Seeing other things happen around the league, for me it’s more motivating than anything,” Cronin said. “I think we put more pressure on ourselves than anything to get this done. We’re extremely motivated to put as many players around Dame as we can and we are really looking forward to having that opportunity, now, pulling all of that stuff off, I’ll admit is extremely complicated.”

Complicating one of Cronin’s deals is his offseason free agent signing of Gary Payton II. GPII was moved back to Golden State for five second-round picks and an $8 million trade exception but maybe not.

A report from ‘The Athletic’ has the four-team deal potentially in peril as the former Beaver, who played 14 games in Rip City, is said to have failed his physical and might miss up to three months from his offseason abdominal surgery which would mean the rest of the season.

SEE ALSO: Trail Blazers say they were confident Payton II was healthy

“I would never push somebody to play because I would always be scared of me doing that and then something actually happening, you know? So, that’s how I always approach that,” said Blazers coach Chauncey Billups.

The Warriors claim the Blazers training staff was giving Payton shots of Toradol and did not disclose that before the trade.

“We were playing him, he was playing,” Cronin said. “He had been cleared. We were confident that he was healthy when he was playing. The clearance process was proper, so I’ll have to rely on that.”

While Cronin didn’t want to weigh in too heavily on the possible hiccup to the deal, he did say Payton would be welcomed back if that’s how it goes.