Every year, there are at least a few teams that don't fulfill their playoff aspirations. For example, despite Stephen Curry's return this season, the Golden State Warriors were eliminated by the Memphis Grizzlies in the play-in tournament. There is no doubt that it is a disappointing result for a team that has one of the best offensive engines in the game.
There are other teams that were eliminated early this season despite the amazing play of their superstars. The Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Wizards were both eliminated in the first round, despite the amazing play of Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal, respectively. John Hollinger has recently reported that Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, and Bradley Beal are all being monitored by executives around the league
Lillard still is signed for four years (albeit with the last as a player option) and is still in his prime, so it’s not a full-blown emergency yet. But as our Shams Charania and Jason Quick recently noted, every executive in the league is watching this situation closely, much as they were watching James Harden in Houston a year ago even as the Rockets seemed unaware of the wave crashing toward their shores. (Lillard, it should be said, is not the only big name being keenly observed in this manner. Bradley Beal in Washington and Steph Curry in Golden State are two others in similar straits after early playoff exits).
Most likely, nothing happens this summer. But by next July, a 32-year-old Lillard will have only be two years away from free agency and may look at his career options quite differently. If so, there is a stark historic parallel for the Blazers. The other all-time great guard in this franchise’s history, Clyde Drexler, never won a title in Portland … but finally got his ring when he found greener pastures via a trade to Houston in 1995, while the Blazers began a rebuild.
At the time, he was 32.
Player movement has been a huge part of the NBA in recent times. Seeing all three of these players on different teams would definitely be something different, as they all have reputations of being loyal to their franchise. However, All-Stars want to win, and any of these players would have suitors around the league if they were to request a trade.