Damian Lillard is a player that has been linked with an exit from the Portland Trail Blazers for quite some time. Despite his continued loyalty to the Portland Trail Blazers, it seems as though their current core has reached its ceiling, and things have been downhill for the team since their Western Conference Finals appearance during the 2019 season.
There is no question that Damian Lillard would command a lot of interest if the Trail Blazers put him on the trading block. Having a legitimate shotmaker like Lillard on one's roster is extremely beneficial. Below, we provide 5 trade scenarios that could benefit the Trail Blazers.
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, 2022 first-round pick (PHI), 2023 second-round pick (ATL, CHA, or BKN), 2024 second-round pick (PHI),
Damian Lillard has long been linked with the 76ers by various media members, with it being an open secret that the 76ers want to bring him in to pair with Joel Embiid. It makes sense to pair them together not only from a talent point of view but also from a basketball standpoint. Joel Embiid is a dominant interior player and Damian Lillard is an elite perimeter player, meaning their skill sets would fit well together.
This trade would feature the 76ers giving the Trail Blazers a solid package for a rebuild, headlined by Ben Simmons, who is well-known as an elite playmaker and defender. They would also be giving up two young players in Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle. Those two would get ample time to develop in Portland, as it's likely that the Trail Blazers would go through a full-on rebuild if they are trading their franchise superstar.
The draft compensation featured in the deal is low-tier draft picks, but since the 76ers are giving up 3 talented young players, it makes sense that the draft picks they send out won't be the best.
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Damian Lillard, Robert Covington, and Tony Snell
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Brandon Ingram, Devonte' Graham, Jaxson Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr., 2024 first-round pick (via LAL), and 2025 first-round pick (via MIL)
The New Orleans Pelicans haven't taken the next step to being a playoff team, and perhaps a blockbuster trade could be the solution. This trade would let the Pelicans pair Zion Williamson with Damian Lillard, and add a solid veteran in Robert Covington to the roster. Tony Snell would be salary filler in this trade.
On the Portland Trail Blazers' end, this would be a solid enough package to start a rebuild. Brandon Ingram is only 24 and is averaging 22.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 4.7 APG. The Trail Blazers would get a star they could build around with this trade.
The two other players in this deal are Jaxson Hayes and Kira Lewis, who are both youngsters that could develop when they reach Portland, though Lewis is currently out with an ACL injury. They would also get two first-round picks, one from the Lakers who could be done contending in 2024, and one from the Milwaukee Bucks, which is a lower value pick as they are likely to continue making the playoffs with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Boston Celtics Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, 2024 first-round Pick, 2025 first-round Pick
The Boston Celtics haven't found much team success this year. There have already been rumors that the Celtics could split up the Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown duo, with Brown being the one to be traded. This scenario would obviously feature them pairing Damian Lillard with Jayson Tatum. Next to Tatum, Lillard could focus on being a playmaker and supplementary scorer, lessening his offensive load.
The Trail Blazers would receive Jaylen Brown as a franchise centerpiece, and that is far from the worst option to start a rebuild. While Brown has missed some time with injury this season, he is still averaging 21.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 2.2 APG, while playing phenomenal perimeter defense.
Marcus Smart would be a solid defensive veteran that they could keep or trade in another deal for extra assets. The first-round picks would be a few years in the future, and they could potentially be very valuable if the Celtics don't work out.
Houston Rockets Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Kevin Porter Jr., Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, Jae'Sean Tate, 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick (BKN), 2024 second-round pick (GSW),
The Houston Rockets are not the most obvious situation when it comes to Damian Lillard, but they have the assets to get it done. Despite initially being the worst team in the NBA, they have gone on a winning streak and are in a better position to succeed and potentially make the playoffs via the play-in tournament. Damian Lillard next to Jalen Green doesn't sound bad at all.
Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. would be the main reasons for the Trail Blazers to do this deal. Christian Wood is a talented big man with shooting ability, while Kevin Porter Jr. has shown potential as a combo guard. Eric Gordon's contract would be salary filler in this scenario, but he could also be traded to a contender in another deal. The Rockets would also include 3 picks in this deal as draft compensation for a Trail Blazers rebuild.
By trading Christian Wood, the Houston Rockets would open up a lot of minutes for big man Alperen Sengun, who has shown a lot of good flashes. Damian Lillard could also teach Jalen Green how to be a top-tier guard. If John Wall returns to join this team, then they could potentially make some noise. Of course, if this experiment doesn't work out, the Rockets could trade Damian Lillard later on.
New York Knicks
New York Knicks Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, 2023 first-round pick (NYK), 2023 second-round pick (UTA)
Stephen A. Smith has claimed that Damian Lillard would like to play for the New York Knicks if he were to request a trade. It makes sense, as he would be in a big market, and play with another All-Star in Julius Randle, as well as solid veterans such as Derrick Rose and Alec Burks.
The New York Knicks would send out a trio of young players for the Portland Trail Blazers to develop: RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin, with Evan Fournier's contract being moved to match salary. RJ Barrett was a solid two-way wing last season, Immanuel Quickley has shown potential as a scorer, and Obi Toppin is an athletic PF who hasn't gotten a lot of opportunity on the Knicks. There are definitely reasons for the Trail Blazers to acquire those young players.
The picks in this scenario would be a first-round pick from the Knicks themselves, and a 2023 second-round pick from the Utah Jazz. Those would likely be used to ensure the deal happens, and would help the Trail Blazers pick some prospects for their future. Overall, this deal gets Damian Lillard to one of his reported desired destinations, while giving the Trail Blazers a great package in return.