The Los Angeles Lakers are in a tough spot in the first round of the playoffs as they trail 2-3 against the Phoenix Suns. Without Anthony Davis in Game 5, the Lakers were beaten on every possession on the floor. A 36-year old LeBron James just doesn't have it in him to carry the Lakers to a victory against a fully loaded Suns team and it showed last night.
The Lakers need a third superstar next season because a 37-year old LeBron James with an oft-injured Anthony Davis won't work. There is one player who fits perfectly: Damian Lillard. Lillard and the Trail Blazers are down 3-2 against the Denver Nuggets and it might be time for the superstar point guard to find a new team. After all, he has yet to make an NBA Finals despite being a top-2 point guard in the world. Here is the trade package the Lakers can offer Portland and why this deal makes sense.
Trade Package: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Talen Horton-Tucker, Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell for Damian Lillard
The Los Angeles Lakers Become The Favorites Again
The Lakers were everybody's favorites to come out the West before LeBron and Davis missed a combined 63 games in the regular season. With newcomers such as Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell joining the team, the Lakers didn't have enough time to build the right team chemistry. But the raw talent and dominance of LeBron James and Anthony Davis were still enough to make them the favorites in the first round of the playoffs.
But Davis suffered an injury in Game 4 and missed Game 5, placing a dark cloud on the Lakers' future. LeBron is clearly older now and cannot single-handedly carry his team to victory every night, so the Lakers need another superstar to carry the load next year. The league is too talented right now and the Lakers must acquire Damian Lillard. Lillard averaged 28.8 PPG this season and after Stephen Curry, he is the most dominant point guard in the league.
Lillard can handle the ball to relieve LeBron James, carry an offense on his own, and is arguably the most clutch player in the league. Teaming up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis will give him the best chance to win an NBA title for the first time in his career because he won't get it done in Portland who might not even make it out of the first round. It is time for Lillard to give up his loyalty and follow the NBA trend because LeBron and Davis need him next year.
Portland Won't Keep Lillard Forever, Time To Cash In
The Portland Trail Blazers have done very well with Damian Lillard on the team, but they won't be able to hold onto him forever. The Trail Blazers are a solid team but they are not a big market, meaning top players won't consider Portland as their destination in free agency. Furthermore, the duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum is dominant on offense but not on defense. The team has many holes and they will not be able to get over the hump in the West over the Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, and Suns.
At some point, Damian Lillard will request a trade but Portland should be ahead of the game. They should acquire the most valuable Lakers players outside of James and Davis to build their team for the future. Kuzma, Caruso, and Horton-Tucker are long-term pieces while Harrell could be a franchise cornerstone or a valuable trade piece for them. Portland will not win an NBA championship so it is time to stop settling for mediocrity and start building a better team.
Damian Lillard holds all the cards in Portland because his play dictates the direction of the franchise. He is too talented to settle for first and second-round exits, especially when his contemporaries are joining superteams and contending. Lillard deserves a big market like Los Angeles and teaming up with James and Davis makes them the favorites in the Western Conference, while Portland pulls the plug for a very solid rebuild.
Conclusion: The Lakers Need Lillard, Lillard Needs The Lakers
Damian Lillard is already a Hall of Fame talent, even if he doesn't have an MVP or an NBA Finals appearance to his name. The man is one of the greatest Portland Trail Blazers stars ever and is one of the purest scorers in the NBA over the past few years. In terms of shot-making and offensive explosiveness, very few players compare to Lillard in NBA history.
6 All-Star Teams and 5 All-NBA Teams are solid achievements for a superstar point guard, especially if he is known for coming up big in all the biggest games. After all, his clutch shotmaking has changed both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets franchises on two separate occasions. But a player of Lillard's caliber needs more than that, he needs an NBA Finals appearance and an NBA title which he won't achieve in Portland.
The Lakers are his best option because they need him. LeBron will be 37 next year and approaching 40 years old as the seasons go by, meaning he needs superstar help to continue to compete. Anthony Davis is in his prime but he is injury prone so Lillard can come in and take over the offense. The Lakers with Lillard make the NBA Finals over the next few years and as long as LeBron keeps healthy, the superstar point guard has a chance to retire a multiple-time NBA champion in Purple and Gold.