It’s going to be a fun offseason in the trade market with Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard in the middle of all of it. Even though Lillard rebuked reports that he requested a trade, Lillard will be swirling in the rumor mill until the first game of the season sees him don a Trail Blazers jersey.
Lillard is as loyal as it gets from a superstar, but at 31 years old, one has to wonder if he thinks that his prime years are coming to a close. Lillard is not the type that wants to join a super team; however, the Trail Blazers have underachieved with the combination of Lillard and CJ McCollum.
There is widespread thinking that Lillard is a top-10 player in the league. He will get a great haul in return, but out of all the interested teams, only one trade package reigns supreme. That would be what the Golden State Warriors have to offer.
What Can Other Teams Offer?
Los Angeles Lakers
Trade Package: Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso (Sign and Trade), 2021 No. 22 Pick
The Lakers could form a trio of Lillard, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis. With the combined salaries topping $100 million, it would be a challenge for the team to fill out the rest of the roster. However, the Trail Blazers could still contend for a playoff spot with Kuzma, Caruso, KCP, and Harrell in the fold. Both Kuzma and Caruso, pending sign-and-trade, would stay with Portland for at least the next three seasons.
Trade Package: Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn (sign and trade), Duncan Robinson (sign and trade), KZ Okpala, Precious Achiuwa, Goran Dragic (sign and trade), 2026 first-round pick, 2028 second-round pick
Herro is coming off a disappointing sophomore season, but one that yields starting shooting guard results. At 21 years old, Herro has loads of potential and could one day shoot just as well as Lillard. Robinson would give the team another shooting threat, while Nunn has a high ceiling as well. To match salary, the key piece would be getting Dragic included in the deal.
New York Knicks
Trade Package: RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Frank Ntilikina (sign and trade), Obi Toppin, 2023 first-round pick, 2023 second-round pick
At 21 years old, Barrett has real potential to be an All-Star swingman in the league. He already shows flashes of primetime Rudy Gay at a young age. The Knicks would be a great market for Lillard’s on and off-the-court activities. In addition, Lillard plays hard at all times, so he would fit in with head coach Tom Thibodeau.
New Orleans Pelicans
Trade Package: Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball (sign and trade), 2022 Lakers first-round pick, 2024 Pelicans first-round pick, 2025 Pelicans first-round pick
Ingram is a former All-Star and Most Improved Player of the Year. Ball is a starting-caliber point guard that is coming off the best offensive season in his career. He also has the potential to be an All-Defensive player in the league. Pair these two young stars, both 23 years old and younger, as well as three first-round picks, a player like Lillard, would surely keep Zion Williamson happy.
Trade Package: Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, 2023 first-round pick, 2023 76ers first-round pick, 2026 76ers first-round pick
The 76ers are an ideal location for Lillard. The salary swap with Simmons would clear with the books. For the 76ers, he would be the ideal offensive partner for Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris. It would cost the 76ers the future and beloved young star Tyrese Maxey, but if the 76ers want to upgrade their offense, it would come at the cost of a three-time All-Star in Simmons.
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Aaron Nesmith, 2023 Celtics first-round pick, 2025 Celtics first-round pick
The Celtics are the runner-up for perfect trade destinations. While it would cost Jaylen Brown, who is coming off his first All-Star appearance, the idea of pairing Lillard with Jayson Tatum has a feel of pairing Steph Curry with Kevin Durant from years back. These are two very talented offensive players that are also very clutch in big-time moments. In the Eastern Conference, Lillard would help Boston contend for a spot in the NBA Finals.
Warriors Have The Best Offer For Damian Lillard
Trade Package: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, Jordan Poole, 2021 No. 7 Pick, 2021 No. 14 Pick
This trade would allow Lillard to contend for a championship right away. The centerpiece around this trade is the salary from Andrew Wiggins. In 2021, Wiggins is set to make $31.5 million and then $33.6 million next season. Lillard’s supermax contract is set to start next season with a starting salary of $39.3 million and then a $3 million increment increases the following three years.
Even though Wiggins is overpaid, he is a solid player that made strides in defense and efficiency last season. If given a larger role, he could likely improve even more. With moving his salary, the Warriors could afford Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Lillard for one season given the state of Curry entering a contract year.
As for Wiseman, the former No. 2 overall pick, showed inexperience last year, but he was just 20 years old. Wiseman was once viewed as the No. 1 overall pick given his raw talent. He showed skills and his athleticism last year, so there is room to grow. The No. 7 and No. 14 picks should capitalize on at least one player in what appears to be a loaded draft class. The Trail Blazers would be able to get a haul that will help the team build its future and provide salary-cap relief in the next two years.
Three Splash Brothers And Draymond Green
Before Kevin Durant joined the Warriors in 2017, the combination of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson had already created the “Splash Brothers” persona. Curry will finish his career as the greatest shooter we have ever seen. This year, he is on pace to break Ray Allen’s record for career three-pointers, while he is already the postseason record holder. As for Thompson, had he not been hurt this last season, he probably would have been the runner-up behind Curry by the end of his career.
With Lillard in the fold, the Warriors would be right back to compete for an NBA championship. The team made the NBA Finals in each season from 2015 to 2019, winning titles in 2015, 2017, and 2018. That also includes finishing 2016 with an NBA record 73 wings before falling to the Cavaliers in seven games.
Just to the given idea of how great this offense would be, here is a look at the stats from each player in their last year of playing:
Steph Curry (2020-2021): 32.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Damian Lillard (2020-2021): 28.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 7.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Klay Thompson (2018-2019): 21.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Draymond Green (2020-2021): 7.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 8.9 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG
It should be noted that we should give Thompson some time to get back into playing basketball. After all, he hasn’t played a full game in two years. We saw that the Celtics endured when Gordan Hayward suffered a grueling injury. It took Hayward about two years to get back to full strength.
However, even if the Warriors had a player like Thompson who was just two-thirds of himself, pairing Thompson and Green with Curry and Lillard is still a title contender. The Celtics needed Hayward to produce like a top-scoring threat. Curry and Lillard are two of the best overall shooters, not to mention clutch shooters, the league has ever seen. Thompson would not need to be a No. 2, let alone No. 3 option with this team.
With that said, the 76ers and Celtics both have intriguing trade packages that would make Portland better as well. In the end, the Warriors can offer a package that allows Portland to see immediate results, and prepare for their future.