Interim Trail Blazers GM Cronin says of Josh Hart “he’s a keeper”

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Joe Cronin has been tasked with rebuilding a contender in Portland around Damian Lillard. Well, we think Cronin has that task. He is currently the interim GM of the Trail Blazers, and he made trades to clear the deck for that rebuild, but the franchise is reportedly going to do a full-blown search for the long-term occupant of that seat, with Cronin in the mix. That search hasn’t really started yet, according to reports.

If Cronin is the long-term guy, he wants more players like Josh Hart, the GM told Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“He’s a keeper,” Cronin told The Athletic. “Josh embodies what we are trying to build here. The talent level, the skillset, the competitiveness, the IQ, the defensive-minded, guard-anyone approach. His ability to make others better, to make shots, push the ball.”

“We targeted him,” Cronin said. “And it’s that type of player who we want. We want to find more Josh Hart’s at different positions.”

A lot of front offices and fans feel the same way about Hart (how much would he help the Lakers right now?). Part of the reason he’s been traded a few times already in his career — including to Portland in the McCollum deal — is because other teams recognize what Hart does, which is everything pretty well while playing hard. He’s averaged 19 points and 4.2 assists a game since coming to the Trhe’sBlazers.

On top of that, Hart is on a fair contract, the first year of a three-year, $39.7 million deal. That’s another reason he keeps getting traded.

Cronin makes a good point that he would like more Josh Harts (or guys like Justise Winslow), but good luck with that. Every team is looking for guys like Josh Hart. There just aren’t many of them out there. Which is going to make Cronin’s job (or whoever’s job) of rebuilding around Lillard that much more tricky.