Damian Lillard is obviously among the best players in the NBA. A 5x All-Star, the Weber State product is coming off his best season yet — with averages of 30 points, 8 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game on 46% shooting.
Despite the fact that neither he nor the Blazers have indicated any desire for a split, trade rumors have been flying regarding the future 30-year-old shooting phenom.
One recent scenario, recently published by Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, may be the craziest we’ve seen yet. It involves a trade that would pair up Lillard with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State.
Golden State Warriors receive: Damian Lillard, Trevor Ariza
Portland Trail Blazers receive: Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, Kevon Looney, No. 2 pick, 2021 first-round pick (top-three protected via MIN) and 2026 first-round pick (top-three protected)
The idea sounds crazy for Portland, who would be giving up their loyal superstar, but Buckley points out why it might just be their best move.
The Blazers need an active offseason. If they want to blame their turbulent 2019-20 season on all their injury issues, that’s fine, but running it back isn’t enough. They need to either aggressively chase talent—like in the previous Gordon Hayward deal—or they should start over.
Status quo isn’t cutting it in what will be an outrageously overloaded Western Conference. That depth should make the organization at least consider the doomsday option of a Damian Lillard deal, even if the mere suggestion might be grounds for a permanent ban from Portland.
The Blazers, who would get back young players and multiple picks, would have the pieces to start an aggressive rebuild.
If Lillard goes, the return would have to be ridiculous: like 2014 No. 1 overall pick (Andrew Wiggins), a current No. 2 pick, two future firsts that might fall inside the top half of the top 10, an All-Rookie first-teamer (Eric Paschall), a 24-year-old with championship experience (Kevon Looney) and a recent first-rounder (Jordan Poole). That’s a haul, folks.
The picks are the top prizes, but the Paschall-Poole tandem could be a key part of Portland’s rebuild. If Looney ever gets his health woes behind him, he’s a versatile defender with perhaps more offense than he’s been able to show in Golden State. And for all the heat Wiggins has taken, he’s still a 25-year-old with elite physical tools and a scoring average of 19.7 points per game.
The Warriors, meanwhile, would have a pretty insane trio of stars in Dame, Steph, and Klay — who would also be paired with defensive juggernaut Draymond Green. The thought might seem outright impossible, but the Warriors have been known to think outside the box before, and there’s no reason to think they won’t do so again.
With the Blazers in increasing pressure to make a move before their stars age past their prime, it’s plausible to think the team could choose to start over completely rather than continuing to play catch-up in a Conference that is historically loaded with talent.
At the very least, all options must be considered, even if one of them involves hitting the big red button.