The Ben Simmons’ trade talks have barely cooled and we’re off to talking about trading Portland Trail Blazers’ superstar guard Damian Lillard. Word got out that “Dame” may want out of Portland.
We can expect every NBA team to be busy calling Portland’s front offices though only a handful have a real shot.
The NBA odds have the obvious teams like the 76ers (+250), Knicks (+300), and Heat (+400) as the frontrunners. But a few could just surprise everyone by winning the Lillard sweepstakes. These four longshots could be worth betting on.
Where Will Damian Lillard Land If Traded?
The Trade: Dallas trades F/C Kristaps Porzingis, G/F Josh Richardson, a 2024 1st-Round Pick (Top 5-protected), and a 2026 1st-Round Pick (Top 3-protected) to Portland for Damian Lillard
Why Dallas Makes It: Like Lillard, Porzingis’ name has been floated around trade discussions thanks to his unflattering comments about his team and his worse play in the playoffs. Richardson has also been a bust. Landing Lillard, another shot creator, and playmaker gives Dallas two of the top four best offensive guards in the league with Luka Doncic while jettisoning two unproductive players.
Why Portland Takes It: Porzingis and Richardson can flourish with Portland. They are just 25 and 27, respectively, and have played better in other systems. The team can also flip Richardson and his one-year deal if they want to clear cap space plus they could hit a jackpot with the lightly protected picks down the road.
The Trade: Toronto trades F Pascal Siakam, G/F Rodney Hood, C Aron Baynes, their 2021 1st Round Pick (4th overall), and a 2023 1st-Round Pick (lottery protected) for Lillard and C Jusuf Nurkic
Why Toronto Makes It: The Raptors are on the cusp of contending again but they need offense and a solid big man. Adding Lillard and Nurkic fills both needs in spades Toronto would instantly be a top-three title favorite in the East while also clearing some dead weight in Hood and Baynes.
Why Portland Takes It: Siakam is an All-Star and the fourth overall pick can turn into a franchise player. If that pick turns into G Jalen Suggs, the Blazers get another potential superstar guard. Hood and Baynes also have one-year deals they can easily clear, giving them over $25 million in cap space for plenty of flexibility.
Boston Celtics (Plus Charlotte)*
*We’re including the Charlotte Hornets in this deal to make it a better haul for Portland
The Trade: Boston trades G/F Jaylen Brown, G Marcus Smart, a 2023 1st-Round Pick (Top 10-protected), and a 2025 1st-Round Pick (Top 5-protected) to Portland for Lillard; Charlotte trades a 2022 1st Round Pick (lottery protected) to Portland for Boston’s C Robert Williams (after they pick up his team option)
Why Boston/Charlotte Make It: Pairing Lillard and Tatum makes one of the most exciting guard-forward combos and lessens the scoring load on the latter. Trading Williams also clears the room for their new acquisition, C Moses Brown to get playing time. Charlotte also gets to sample a promising big at an inexpensive price.
Why Portland Takes It: Brown blossomed into the star everyone thought he could be and he gets to take that to a new level with his own team. The Blazers can also choose to let Smart walk for more cap flexibility or keep him around for a playoff push. A haul of picks that goes all the way to 2025 also gives them plenty of draft capital.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Trade: New Orleans trades F Brandon Ingram, G Eric Bledsoe, its 2021 1st-Round Pick (10th overall), a 2022 1st-Round Pick (via the Lakers), and a 2023 1st-Round Pick (swap with Lakers) to Portland for Damian Lillard and F/C Robert Covington
Why New Orleans Makes It: The Pelicans want to win now and they want to keep their young star Zion Williamson happy. Grabbing the bonafide star in Lillard makes their explosive offense even better. Covington also gives them some much-needed 3-and-D.
Why Portland Takes It: Ingram is an All-Star and Bledsoe is a serviceable guard who can immediately take over point duties. But most notably, the wealth of picks they get, including the 10th overall pick this year, is enticing and can set them up nicely for the next two drafts.