Trail Blazers interim general manager Joe Cronin said he is working with first-year coach Chauncey Billups to identify players who may be available ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
The good news for Cronin is he appears to have the blessings of Blazers chairwoman Jody Allen and vice chairman Bert Kolde to make changes to the roster. Cronin was promoted from director of player personnel after the team fired former GM Neil Olshey as the result of a workplace misconduct investigation.
“The way I’ve kind of approached this is, I’m going to get the deal to the 1-yard line, and then I’m going to take it to Jody and Bert, and then they make the final call,” Cronin told reporters. “They’ll have our recommendations as to what to do.
“So, it’s pretty standard that way in the regard of there is a clearinghouse you have to go through. But my understanding is yes, go out, do your job, find deals, participate as if you are the GM.”
Cronin is expected to receive consideration in the Blazers’ wide-ranging search for a new head of basketball operations.
“Ownership has been very upfront with me and they’ve told me that they believe in me and obviously by giving me this role, they trust me to transition this organization,” Cronin told reporters. “So they haven’t made many declarations other than this is a nice venue for you to be able to do good work, and you’ll be evaluated and I do have a chance.
“They told me that you’ll have an opportunity. This is going to be a fair opportunity to prove yourself.”
The Blazers have experienced quite a bit of chaos this season, with some injuries to key players, the Olshey firing and reports of team tension, primarily directed at Billups.
Also, a report from The Athletic said star guard Damian Lillard would like the team to trade for available 76ers guard/forward Ben Simmons to help shore up the league’s worst defense.
While Cronin made it sound as if changes are indeed on the way, Billups kept his comments restricted to the here and now.
“Our roster is our roster and we’ve got some really talented players,” Billups said. “And when we’re playing well, we’re playing together, we’re pretty damn good. We’ve proven that already this year. And then we can be pretty bad too.”
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