Damian Lillard hasn’t requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers yet, but these five NBA teams should have offers ready in case he does.
To this point, there has been no indication that Damian Lillard wants to leave the Portland Trail Blazers.
To this point, Dame has remained unwaveringly loyal to the franchise that drafted him No. 6 overall back in 2012. He’s repeatedly stated over the years that he wants to retire in Portland, that he wants to bring the city its first championship since 1977 and that he doesn’t picture himself ever forming a “super-team” just to win a ring.
Repeatedly banging one’s head on the same playoff ceiling has got to leave a mark after awhile, and just days into the Blazers’ latest offseason that came too soon, he’s asserting his status as an unmissable NBA superstar by applying pressure on the front office. Head coach Terry Stotts is out, and Dame’s top two choices to replace him — Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups — have already become public information. After a cryptic Instagram post following the team’s first-round exit at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, it’s become quite clear Lillard’s days of patiently waiting for this franchise to get him help are over.
He’s ready for drastic changes to make the Blazers a contender before his prime is done, and if Rip City can’t oblige this offseason, it might not be so surprising if he finally requests a trade.
It’s no wonder teams are already monitoring his situation, and every team should have an interest in acquiring a guy like Dame Lillard. However, not all are in a position to actually make a compelling offer; Lillard would likely only entertain a move to a contender, and as much as it’d be in the Blazers’ hands, if they actually start entertaining offers, it’s hard to see them betraying him further by dumping him on some hopeless lottery team. Some teams already have their point guard of the future or simply don’t have the cap space/means to work him in.
However, even if there’s been no inkling of a trade request yet … these five teams should have their hands waiting on the phone with a ready-made offer for the second that day arrives.
Honorable Mentions: Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans
5. LA Clippers
The LA Clippers will face a ton of questions about their championship viability if they flame out of the playoffs early. Kawhi Leonard’s Game 6 heroics forced a Game 7 in their first-round matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, but Luka Doncic has made them look awfully vulnerable, and even if they win this series, they’ll have a second-round series with the Utah Jazz awaiting them.
At the center of these discussions about the Clippers is Paul George, who has actually played well this postseason but will always be dragged for this team’s shortcomings as “Pandemic P.” He might be at the center of a Lillard trade if the Clippers come up short once again, though it’s unclear how willing Portland would be to build around a 31-year-old wing who’s proven he’s more of a No. 2 in this league, not a No. 1. Ironically, he would’ve been a perfect wing to pair with Lillard, but he’s not necessarily the ideal replacement for him as Rip City’s No. 1 option.
If the Blazers aren’t interested in a straight-up trade for Paul George, the Clippers don’t have the young talent to make a realistic offer, especially since they already owe OKC their first-round picks for basically the next six years. Kawhi and Lillard is a fun thought, but it’s hard to see the Clippers actually making it a reality.