Damian Lillard has professed his commitment to the City of Roses, but plenty of NBA execs are ready to make a deal if Portland’s guard has a change of heart.
The sixth pick in the 2012 draft, Lillard and the Trail Blazers have never made it to the Finals, only getting as far as the Conference Finals in 2019, where the Golden State Warriors swept them.
After losing in the opening round once again this season, long-time head coach Terry Stotts was given the boot, and LA Clippers’ assistant Chauncey Billups was brought in, but Billups hire brought a lot of heat on Lillard, and if the Blazers’ front office can’t bring in some help for their franchise player, Dame may be trying on a new uniform next season.
Rumors already have the Lakers as a possible destination as LeBron James looks for a third piece for a title run, but the Sixers, Knicks, Warriors, and even the Raptors could be better positioned to lure the six-time NBA All-Star.
Philadelphia’s playoff run was disappointing, to say the least.
Ben Simmons all but disappeared, and Doc Rivers was haunted by the ghosts of his coaching past, but a trade of Simmons for Lillard could be the perfect match for Joel Embiid.
Derek Bodner, beat writer for the Sixers, explained how Lillard in Philly could happen, per The Athletic.
“We also know that the organization [Philadelphia 76ers] isn’t against trading Simmons. That was true in January when they pursued Harden, and Simmons becoming a shell of himself in the playoffs certainly hasn’t caused them to change course.
When you add it all up, I think it’s a virtual lock that the Sixers would be aggressive if Lillard does actually hit the market. Very, very aggressive.”
Mike Vorkunov, beat writer for the New York Knicks, says the Knicks’ cash flow could help them land Portlands’ superstar.
“Unlike every other team that could trade for him, the Knicks could just take Lillard into their cap space, since they could potentially have some $50 million in room available this offseason. The Blazers get a big trade exception and clear their books all at once of $44 million that will put them in a manageable cap situation again as they begin what might just be a rebuild.”
Another possible landing place is Golden State, where Lillard could be part of the “greatest shooting trio” in league history, per Warriors’ beat writer Anthony Slater.
Odds are Dame will be back with the Blazers, but as this season has proven, there are no sure bets.