At the start of a busy offseason, the NBA front offices are closely monitoring the situation between the Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard. If the six-time All-Star becomes available, the market should be plentiful. In a piece of Athleticism, beat writers Derek Bodner, Anthony Slater, and Mike Vorkunov looked at teams that can put together competitive packages for Lillard’s services.
Bodner, the beatwriter of the Philadelphia 76ers, mentioned Daryl Morey’s aggressiveness when it comes to pursuing disgruntled superstars who have hit the trading market. Given both their crying need for an additional perimeter to Joel Embiid and the availability of their own All-Star goaltender on multiple occasions, Philadelphia could be a team to watch. Bodner envisions the 76ers being very aggressive under these circumstances:
“We also know the organization is not against Simmons’ business. That was true in January when they chased Harden, and Simmons becoming a shell of himself in the playoffs certainly didn’t cause them to change course.
When you add all that up, I think it’s a virtual lock that the Sixers would be aggressive if Lillard actually hit the market. Very, very aggressive.
His business scenario sees the 76ers providing a set of Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey and / or Matisse Thybulle, two first-round picks and a trade on another assortment of draft picks. That, or bring in a third team to sweeten the deal.
Slater, the beatwriter of the Golden State Warriors, sees them aggressively pursuing the “biggest shooting trio” in league history, should Lillard’s status change. His case revolves around the Warriors’ copious mix of draft capital and burgeoning talent.
“Their theoretical offer would be competitive. If the Blazers have decided to trade Lillard, a full rebuild seems like the wisest path and there aren’t many better commercial rebuild packages hanging around right now than James Wiseman, the seventh and 14th pick in the next. Draft, along with other future firsts, attached to Andrew Wiggins as a salary match filler. The Thunder and other teams may have a more attractive basket of choices, but why would they spend them on a star on the wrong side of 30? “
Slater retorts that Lillard probably wouldn’t want to co-star in San Francisco, which, for now, would put any potential deal on the rocks for now.
Vorkunov, who covers the New York Knicks, kicked off a deal that would send Lillard into the Big Apple. Like the Warriors, they offer something few other teams can present in abundance: cash.
“Unlike every other team that might trade for him, the Knicks could just take Lillard into their cap space because they could potentially have some $ 50 million in room this offseason. The Blazers are getting a big trade exception and wiping out their books in one fell swoop of $ 44 million, which will again put them in a manageable cap situation as they begin what might be just a rebuild. It’s not a tangible asset the Knicks can send to Portland, but it’s something they can use that no other Lillard competitor can possibly, with their picks and the players they can deal with.
The proposed offer included RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox, a pair of 2021 NBA Draft first-round picks, protected picks in 2023 and 2025, a pick swap somewhere down the line in exchange for Lillard.
Apart from their own teams, the group also suggested the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors as intriguing options, as they would pair Lillard with an All-Star, like Nikola Jokic, Zion Williamson, or Jayson Tatum. They also offered side comments, wondering what the Blazers’ intention was, in terms of how competitive they wanted to stay after a possible deal with Lillard. You can read the full article at Athleticism (subscription required).