NBA insider wouldn’t be surprised if Portland Trail Blazers want Jaime Jaquez Jr.'
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The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie wouldn’t be surprised if the Portland Trail Blazers want the Miami Heat’s 2023 first-round pick Jaime Jaquez Jr. in a potential Damian Lillard trade.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they do want Jaquez,” Vecenie said. “I don’t know that for sure. But I did hear his name a little bit with Portland predraft. It wouldn’t surprise me if they value Jaquez in the same way that they ended up valuing Kris Murray predraft as like an older player that could bring them some stability.”

The Heat took Jaquez with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. A four-year player at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Jaquez averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in the 2022-23 season for the Bruins.

In his four seasons at UCLA, Jaquez started 126 of the 134 games that he appeared in and made the NCAA Tournament in multiple seasons.

He is one of the most experienced players that was taken in the first round since he played four collegiate seasons, and that could help the Blazers as they enter a rebuilding phase should they trade Lillard this offseason.

Miami may have to move off the 2023 first-round pick in order to entice Portland to move Lillard to the team. The Heat can also offer former Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, but Portland doesn’t seem to be interested in adding him to its roster.

While the Heat could also attempt to trade 2022 first-round pick Nikola Jovic, Jaquez may be the more attractive option to Portland since he has an extra year remaining on his rookie deal.

The Blazers have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, so adding a player that can be there for multiple seasons while the team rebuilds should be something that Portland values.

Lillard, a seven-time All-NBA selection, averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc in the 2022-23 campaign. Despite those numbers, Portland failed to even make the play-in tournament in the Western Conference last season.

There’s no doubt that he would help take Miami to new heights after it made the NBA Finals last season, so the team may have to be willing to sacrifice a young player like Jaquez to make a deal happen.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.