NBA Writer Has Harsh Description of Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton, Trail Blazers, NBA
Feb 2, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton (2) calls out in the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have been one of the least productive teams in the NBA thus far this season. They seem to be operated as a rudderless ship, as there is no definitive direction the franchise is being taken in.

General manager Joe Cronin is still pitching hope and optimism, but the fan base is getting restless. He opted to blow up a team that had made the postseason for eight straight years and to this point, has nothing to show for it.

The Trail Blazers are in a tough spot, as the light at the end of the tunnel feels very far away. They are 15-36 this season, 9.5 games away from the 10th-place Utah Jazz for the last spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Malcolm Brogdon, Jerami Grant, Deandre Ayton, Portland Trail Blazers Updates

Teams such as the Jazz, who have undergone massive rebuilds in the same time frame as the Trail Blazers are well ahead of their timelines. Portland has the fifth-worst record in the NBA, which is why Jason Quick of The Athletic would have liked the team to do something, anything ahead of the deadline.

The only move the Trail Blazers made was acquiring Dalano Banton from the Boston Celtics in exchange for a top-55 protected second-round pick. Acquiring Banton put Portland at the 14-player threshold the league requires for rosters.

That being the only move ahead of the deadline will frustrate some people. In Quick’s opinion, trading someone such as Deandre Ayton would have at least signaled some change for the franchise and a direction. According to Quick, Ayton has brought up some bad memories for the franchise similar to another big man that used to play for the team.

“Although his play has spiked for the better in the past month, his first months in Portland were defined by tardiness and tantrums according to team sources. And there has been an eerie resemblance to Hassan Whiteside, the former Blazers’ center whose statistics looked nice, but had little to no impact on a game. The quicker the Blazers can move off Ayton, the sooner I will believe this franchise is headed in the right direction,” wrote Quick.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Malcolm Brogdon, Jerami Grant, Deandre Ayton, Portland Trail Blazers Updates

That is certainly not the kind of player a franchise wants as one of their cornerstones. Actions like that are also why it was encouraging to see the Trail Blazers hold onto respected veterans such as Malcolm Brogdon and Jerami Grant.

Their presence keeps the playing time of some of the younger players lower than what a rebuilding team may want, but their leadership is imperative in the locker room. Without them, incidents such as the ones involving Ayton could trickle down to other players.

There are certainly some pieces to like in Portland, but Cronin has his work cut out for him to get this franchise back on track. This offseason is a big one for him as he needs to start making some moves to show progress with the rebuild.

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