The New York Knicks are a team that has had a renaissance this year. Under the leadership of coach Thibodeau, the New York Knicks have put themselves in a place where they might actually be able to compete in the playoffs. The emergence of Julius Randle as an All-Star cannot be understated. Randle has become one of the best playmaking big men in the game and is a top power forward in the league. He is about to hit his prime, and the New York Knicks should prioritize building around him.
One way that the New York Knicks could do that is via trade. Star power wins championships in this league, and one of the surefire ways to ensure you have a chance at winning a championship is to acquire talent. The New York Knicks could do that this offseason, potentially with a trade for a superstar. Somebody that they should target in the offseason is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard has been a loyal player for Portland, but the clock is running on his window to win a championship. A trade to the New York Knicks would allow him to team up with Julius Randle, and the Knicks could build around the star duo.
New York Knicks Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Frank Ntilikina (sign and trade), Obi Toppin, a future first-round pick, a future second-round pick
Portland Trail Blazers Reset
For the Trail Blazers, it could be time to make difficult decisions after this season. The New York Knicks currently have a better record than the Trail Blazers, and the Blazers' core is aging. Portland is a smaller market, and it is difficult to convince superstars to come there to join Damian Lillard. Damian Lillard cannot win by himself. Those are all valid concerns. The Blazers have been trying to win for years without giving Lillard other All-Stars to work with, and the furthest they've gotten is the Conference Finals. While it is impressive that the Blazers have managed to make the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors sweeping them during that series in 2019 showed that they are still far from being real contenders. It is hard to win in the Western Conference, plain and simple.
The package the New York Knicks would send out includes 4 young prospects, all of whom have something to offer. RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley are both talented shot creators and would provide two solid prospects for the Trail Blazers in return for a player of Lillard's caliber. Frank Ntilikina is a defensive specialist who could potentially develop his offensive game given more touches in Portland. Obi Toppin is a big man, who could potentially become a solid player if he gets big minutes as a PF, instead of being stuck behind Julius Randle. The Trail Blazers would also get some draft compensation, getting a future first-round pick and future second-round pick. This is a great package for an All-Star caliber player and could entice the Portland Trail Blazers into making that step towards rebuilding.
New York Knicks Pair Two Elite Stars
Julius Randle has been one of the best power forwards in the league this season, and pairing him with an MVP candidate in Damian Lillard would make their offense extremely dangerous. We all know what Damian Lillard can do in terms of shot-making, and he would give the New York Knicks a player other than Julius Randle that can close games. The New York Knicks are good right now, that's undeniable. They would have to send out two key players for the rotation in RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley. But Damian Lillard is an MVP caliber player, and if an opportunity to trade for that type of player comes up, then any franchise should take a risk on them. Building around two All-NBA level stars is way easier than only building around one.
The New York Knicks would have the cap space to build around Damian Lillard and Julius Randle. If this trade were to be executed, then the New York Knicks could potentially attract another big name in free agency to add talent to their roster. They would also retain the services of Mitchell Robinson in this scenario, which is a boon for their defense. For Damian Lillard, there are a few reasons as to why the Knicks move could be appealing, aside from teaming up with a top-tier big man. New York is a big market, which would potentially bring Lillard more recognition. On top of that, he would be in the Eastern Conference, which could potentially offer an easier path to the NBA Finals, and ultimately, the championship. Going to the New York Knicks would allow Damian Lillard to potentially make the Finals and play in the brightest spotlight at Madison Square Garden. This could be a great offseason move for both teams.