Has Dame Time run its course in Portland? In the wake of Chris Haynes’s eye-opening report on the disgruntled superstar, let’s explore three possible trade destinations for Damian Lillard.
Three Damian Lillard Trade Destinations
Yahoo Sports NBA Insider, Chris Haynes, is known to have a close relationship with Damian Lillard. Which is why, late on Sunday afternoon, Trailblazers fans had every right to start feeling a little anxious.
Haynes had tweeted out an article detailing Lillard’s unease towards his current situation. Alluding to frustrations about the way Portland’s coaching search had played out, as well as doubts regarding whether the front office could build a contender. Most worrying however, was Haynes suggesting that these concerns are major factors that could force Damian Lillard to request a trade out of Portland.
Due to the relationship of Haynes and Lillard, some have viewed this article as Lillard talking through Haynes. For now, however, Lillard hasn’t formally requested a trade. He remains a member of the Portland Trailblazers.
However, when there’s smoke there’s usually fire. Lillard is now in his thirties and is still seeking that elusive championship. The Blazers have also been bounced out of the first round in four of the last five post-seasons; with this year’s exit showcasing more than ever that Lillard desperately needs help.
Whether help comes in the form of drastic change to the roster or completely new scenery for Lillard; it’s become clear that running it back simply isn’t an option. So, whilst we’re entrenched in rumour mill season, let’s stir the pot a little. Here are three possible trade destinations for Damian Lillard.
For the Sixers, replacing Ben Simmons with Lillard would significantly raise the team’s ceiling in the short-term. Lillard is a superstar caliber player, but most importantly, Lillard is a much better fit next to franchise big man Joel Embiid.
Lillard is basically the antithesis of Simmons; whilst Simmons is petrified to shoot the ball, Lillard will pull from the logo without hesitation. With Lillard causing havoc on the perimeter, defenses will be hesitant to double Embiid inside. At the same time, the attention that Embiid commands in the paint will also make things easier for Lillard on the outside.
This pairing has the potential to stretch defenses and become a pick and roll nightmare for its opposition. Though it’s been fun to watch CJ McCollum as Lillard’s running mate, Embiid’s ceiling as a basketball player is higher than any teammate Lillard has ever had.
Though adding Lillard would improve Philadelphia’s offense drastically. Losing both Thybulle and Simmons would result in a massive hit on the defensive end. Despite his flaws, Simmons is one of the league’s best defensive players, as he proved this season with a runner-up finish for Defensive Player of the Year. If the Sixers do pull the trigger on the Lillard trade; further moves are needed to fill the defensive void left by Simmons and Thybulle.
Golden State Warriors
Now hear me out. Damian Lillard as the third splash brother. Just let that thought marinate for a second.
This hypothetical trade package would involve the Warriors dealing James Wiseman, Andrew Wiggins, along with the 7th and 14th picks in this year’s draft. Whilst Portland sends Lillard back home to the bay area.
Lillard is from Oakland and grew up supporting the Warriors. However, over his career, and often in his hometown of Oakland; Lillard has long lived in the shadow of Stephen Curry. Whereas Lillard is beloved in Oakland for what he represents. Come playoff time, Curry has brought championships to the city; whilst Lillard has often been the enemy standing in the way. Suiting up in that Warrior uniform on behalf of the town would present a different kind of love for Lillard.
Lillard on the Warriors is a match made in offensive heaven; and would perhaps be the greatest collection of shooting talent ever assembled. Somehow, it would make Klay Thompson potentially the third best shooter on his own team, which is just absurd to think about. There may be no more fitting chapter in Lillard’s career than returning home and winning a championship to cement his legacy.
One thing that may hold this trade scenario back is having Andrew Wiggins as the centerpiece of the deal. In a deal that will see Lillard depart, Portland may not find this return too attractive. However, if trading Lillard means that the Blazers are embracing a rebuild. Then arguably no other team has a better package of young talent to offer than the Warriors. Portland would be acquiring their big man of the future in James Wiseman, as well as two immediate lottery picks to help jump-start their rebuild.
New York Knicks
On the Knicks, Lillard would finally have a defense to back up his all-world offense. Most improved player, Julius Randle, makes for a natural fit alongside Lillard. Randle’s elite interior game would complement Lillard’s dead-eye perimeter shooting, providing the Knicks with something they desperately lacked this past season. Buckets.
The idea of a two-man game with Lillard and Randle is enough to get Knicks fans salivating. With Lillard’s ability to stretch defenses to several feet beyond the three-point line, Randle will have more room on drives inside. Likewise, with Randle dragging defenders with him to the paint, Lillard will get precious additional space on his catch-and-shoot attempts.
Piecing together a package for Lillard is doable for the Knicks. However, will a tandem of Lillard and Randle be enough to make it out of a loaded Eastern Conference? I doubt it. The Knicks risking it all for Lillard would be dependent on the hope that, a potential third star also gets seduced by the appeal of New York. Choosing to follow in Lillard’s footsteps during free agency.
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