Damian Lillard is one of the most loyal players in the league. So far, he has spent his entire career on the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite his loyalty, the Portland Trail Blazers have failed to surround him with a championship core thus far. Lillard has given a lot to the Portland Trail Blazers franchise, and perhaps it may be time to go win a championship somewhere else.
While it seemed unlikely that Damian Lillard would ever leave the Portland Trail Blazers at the start of the season, things can change quickly in the NBA. Keeping that in mind, here are the best destinations for Damian Lillard in the eventuality that he does request a trade.
4. Miami Heat
Miami Heat Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn (sign and trade), Duncan Robinson (sign and trade), KZ Okpala, Precious Achiuwa, Goran Dragic (sign and trade), a first-round pick, a second-round pick
The Miami Heat were unceremoniously swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Their whole roster underperformed, and the Milwaukee Bucks were clearly the better team. However, with Damian Lillard next to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, things could be different for the Heat. One series doesn't necessarily invalidate Jimmy Butler's Finals run from last season, and perhaps Damian Lillard would be intrigued by teaming up with him.
If the Portland Trail Blazers trade Lillard, then the young talent on the Miami Heat would likely be sent out via trade. Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Duncan Robinson would all thrive in bigger roles in Portland, while projects like KZ Okpala and Precious Achiuwa would likely have more developmental minutes. While it would hurt to lose a key veteran in Goran Dragic, it would be worth it if it meant gaining a superstar in Lillard. The picks would aid the Trail Blazers rebuild, and overall, this is a great package featuring prospects and picks.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Talen Horton-Tucker (sign and trade), Alex Caruso (sign and trade), Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell (sign and trade)
However, Damian Lillard to the Lakers could be a perfect scenario. While Damian Lillard would have to specifically request the Los Angeles Lakers in order to reach Los Angeles, the Lakers would certainly offer him the chance for contention. The Portland Trail Blazers would definitely do their best in order to accommodate their superstar point guard, as he is a franchise legend. Playing next to Anthony Davis and LeBron James would be amazing for a player of Lillard's caliber, and he would have a genuine chance at a championship.
The Portland Trail Blazers would receive a variety of assets for this trade. There would be solid veterans that fit on contending teams, such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, and Montrezl Harrell. The Trail Blazers could decide to keep them throughout the year, or potentially trade them to a contender at the deadline, gaining more players/picks for their rebuild. Talen Horton-Tucker and Kyle Kuzma could potentially improve given bigger roles, and they would certainly get those roles on the post-Lillard Trail Blazers. While there are other teams that could offer more, there are ways this scenario could happen.
2. Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, Eric Paschall, 2021 Timberwolves first-round pick (top-3 protected), 2021 Warriors first-round pick
The Golden State Warriors landing another long-range shooter like Damian Lillard could increase their offensive firepower drastically. Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry would be unstoppable from the perimeter, and the spacing for the other members of the team would be insane. With Golden State, Damian Lillard would have to carry less of an offensive load, while getting to play with another superstar in Stephen Curry.
Andrew Wiggins is a great two-way player. He would be the salary centerpiece of the deal, but Wiggins would be able to put up big numbers in Portland as one of the primary scorers. James Wiseman is the No. 2 overall pick from the 2020 NBA draft, and it is clear from watching him that he has a lot of potential. However, it is uncertain whether he'll get the touches he needs to develop on the Warriors, so he could get traded. Eric Paschall is an All-Rookie selection from 2019-20 that doesn't quite fit on the Warriors system, so a change of scenery could surely aid his development. The two picks in 2021 are both fairly valuable, and overall, this package sets up Portland's future very nicely.
1. Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Monte Morris, two future first-round picks
The Denver Nuggets are still in contention for the championship. However, if they don't win this season, then perhaps a Damian Lillard trade may be the right move. Pairing Nikola Jokic with another superstar in Damian Lillard, while retaining Michael Porter Jr. would make the Nuggets one of the best teams in the league.
Playing with this year's likely MVP in Nikola Jokic could allow Lillard to team up with someone who can be the main force on the team. Jokic's passing ability would get Damian Lillard easy looks. Notably, Damian Lillard has spoken highly of Nikola Jokic in the past and recently posted a photo of the two together after Jokic defeated him in their series. It is needless to say that if they were to team up, they would be one of the most formidable duos in the league.
The Denver Nuggets will surely have to give up Jamal Murray in the trade, simply in terms of talent and contract. Jamal Murray is an electric point guard that looks like a certain star in the future, but Damian Lillard would allow the Nuggets to hit another level. Will Barton and Monte Morris are both capable role players and would be solid additions to the Portland roster. The future picks would be solid draft compensation to get a player of Lillard's caliber when factoring in the fact that the Nuggets would send out Murray in this scenario. Damian Lillard in Denver would be a scary sight to behold, and there are few win-now moves that would be better for the Nuggets.