The Los Angeles Lakers are a team that was touted as a championship contender at the start of the season. However, they have not lived up to the public's expectations, and they are currently a play-in tier team in the Western Conference.
Many people have claimed that one of the reasons that the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled is due to the fit between Russell Westbrook and the two other stars on their roster in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Perhaps one of the ways that the Los Angeles Lakers could improve is by moving Russell Westbrook for another star that is a better fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard seems like a good candidate. It has been rumored that Lillard wants to stay on the West Coast if he were to get traded, and the Lakers are a team that fits the bill. Here is our trade scenario:
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk, 2027 first-round pick (LAL)
Damian Lillard Stays On The West Coast And Joins The Lakers To Win A Championship
There are definitely other franchises that could fulfill Damian Lillard's desire to stay on the West Coast. However, those other franchises would have a tough time getting him or don't necessarily have a need to get him. For example, the Golden State Warriors are currently the 2nd seed in the Western Conference, and they don't necessarily need more star power on the roster. The Sacramento Kings look like they're heading towards a rebuild once again, while the Los Angeles Clippers don't have the necessary assets to get him. That leaves the Los Angeles Lakers.
On the Los Angeles Lakers, Damian Lillard would get to thrive as the third option behind Anthony Davis and LeBron James. He would finally get to be part of a big three and try to realistically compete for a championship. He would be a great fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis due to his off-ball game and shooting ability. He would also be able to carry some of the offensive load with bench units while LeBron James sits. On top of all of this, Lillard could provide supplementary shot creation, and is well-known for showing up in clutch situations.
While Damian Lillard hasn't had the best year due to injury, when healthy, he is one of the best point guards in the league. During the 2020-21 season, Lillard put up 28.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 7.5 APG while shooting 39.9% from beyond the arc. He would definitely be a good addition to the team. While Damian Lillard has stated that he wouldn't return this season if his team was tanking for a pick, he wouldn't be tanking on the Lakers, and Damian Lillard could definitely help them win more games and potentially avoid the play-in tournament.
The Portland Trail Blazers Get A Solid Trade Package For Damian Lillard
If Damian Lillard does in fact want to stay on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Lakers can provide the Portland Trail Blazers with a solid return, featuring a good point guard and some future assets.
Russell Westbrook has been criticized all year by analysts and fans alike. However, there's an argument to be made that he would do much better on a team that fits his talents. On the Trail Blazers, he would become the primary ballhandler once again and would have some shooters like Ben McLemore and Anfernee Simons surrounding him. He averaged 22.2 PPG, 11.5 RPG, and 11.7 APG just last season with the Washington Wizards. Perhaps Russell Westbrook can show that he is still a valuable player on the Trail Blazers, and rebuild his trade value in the process. Once his trade value has been rebuilt, then perhaps the Trail Blazers can trade him later on to a contender.
Talen Horton-Tucker is a young guard that hasn't gotten the offensive touches that other prospects do. On the Trail Blazers, that would change. Horton-Tucker is a good slasher and solid defender currently. Malik Monk's deal expires at the end of this year, but perhaps the Trail Blazers could try to extend him at the end of the season. Malik Monk has had a career year this year, averaging 13.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 2.5 APG while shooting 40.9% from beyond the arc in a limited role. The 2027 first-round pick would likely be high value since, by that time, the Lakers would likely be in a rebuild.
Overall, this deal would get the Trail Blazers a decent enough return while letting Damian Lillard remain on the West Coast. The Trail Blazers could do a favor for their franchise legend and send him to a team with other stars while coming out with some assets for the now and the future.