NBA Trade Rumors: Jaylen Brown, Jerami Grant Interest Blazers amid Lillard Buzz

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 19, 2022

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly showing interest in Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown and Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant ahead of the 2022 NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10.

Sam Amick of The Athletic reported Wednesday there's pressure on Blazers interim general manager Joe Cronin to "calm those waters" because of the team's lackluster 18-25 record and Damian Lillard's uncertain future with the franchise, which could lead to a blockbuster trade.

The Blazers announced last week that Lillard underwent core surgery to relieve "chronic abdominal pain," which would sideline him for at least six weeks.

Lillard told Casey Holdahl of the team's official website there was part of him that wanted to keep fighting through the pain in pursuit of a playoff spot, but he came to the conclusion surgery was the best option to get him back playing at a top-tier level:

"I know [surgery] is ultimately going to be what's best for the team, too. I'd rather be selfish for the team, what I see for our organization and where I want it to go. It makes no sense to keep doing it the way we was doing it. It's like, alright, take a step back to take how many steps forward. It's just what had to happen."

The six-time All-Star's numbers had dipped while playing through the injury. His 24 points per game were the lowest since 2014-15, and he was shooting a career-worst 40.2 percent from the field.

Getting Lillard, who's also been the focus of trade rumors dating back to last offseason, back to full strength is just part of the equation, though. Portland must upgrade its roster if its going to re-emerge as a true contender in the Western Conference.

The Blazers reached the conference finals in 2019, but got knocked out of the postseason in the first round each of the past two years.

Adding another high-impact player like Brown or Grant would be a major step in the right direction, though the asking price from the Celtics or Pistons is unknown.

Brown is averaging 24.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals across 31 games this season. Boston, like Portland, has faced questions about whether it's time to shake up its core duo of Brown and Jayson Tatum.

Grant is putting up 20.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals in 24 appearances during the current campaign. His contract runs out after next season, and with Detroit not yet ready to contend, now might be the best time to trade him to maximize the return.

Whether the Blazers have the assets to acquire either of those high-impact players is up for debate, though. CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic would likely generate interest, but those type of wide-scale roster revamps are usually accomplished in the offseason, not at the deadline.

So, Portland has to weigh its chances of a trade making it a threat in the West against the future assets it would likely have to give up to bring in another marquee player, which is the first major test for Cronin in the interim GM role.