Skip to main content

The Blockbuster Trade That Would Be Win-Win For The Nets And Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard For Kyrie Irving, Bruce Brown, And Nicolas Claxton

The Blockbuster Trade That Would Be Win-Win For The Nets And Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard For Kyrie Irving, Bruce Brown, And Nicolas Claxton

Two superstar point guards in the NBA news consistently are Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard, although for very different reasons. Kyrie is making and breaking headlines due to his anti-vaccination stance, making it clear that he wants to spread the word on personal freedom. Whether his stance is based on belief or his own obscure research, Kyrie is standing by his anti-vaccine decision even if it means he won’t suit up for the Brooklyn Nets this season. The Nets are championship favorites this year, but without Kyrie, they are looking very beatable to start the season. In other words, Brooklyn Nets are unstoppable when Kyrie Irving is on the floor with Kevin Durant and James Harden.

Meanwhile, Lillard is playing in the NBA at full health and availability. However, things are not looking too bright for the superstar point guard. For one, Damian Lillard is struggling from the floor. He is only averaging 19.3 PPG on 36.5% shooting from the field and 25.5% shooting from three, numbers that are shockingly poor for a superstar of Lillard’s status. Not to mention, Dame is getting frustrated with how the game is being officiated at the moment. Secondly, the Portland Trail Blazers look like the same old team we have been saying for years. More specifically, the Trail Blazers look like an average team that will likely get swept in the first round should they make the postseason. At this point of the season, the Trail Blazers hold a 5-6 record which is clearly not good enough.

With Brooklyn looking vulnerable without Irving and Portland going nowhere fast, both teams could benefit from a blockbuster point guard swap. That would mean Kyrie is heading to Portland, while Dame joins the Nets in what would change the current landscape of the NBA for good. Here is how this mega swap deal works out for both sides. The only way for this to happen is if Kyrie Irving agrees to work with the Brooklyn Nets brass and sign an extension. This means he is a tradeable asset that the Trail Blazers can take on with confidence by parting ways with their own superstar.

Trade Details: Damian Lillard for Kyrie Irving, Bruce Brown, Nicolas Claxton

Brooklyn Nets Become NBA Champions At The End Of Season

Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, James Harden - Brooklyn Nets

Kyrie Irving is a sensational talent, and we all know that. He won the NBA title with LeBron James in 2016 and made the biggest shot of the series to close out the Golden State Warriors in Game 7. Irving is as clutch as they come and as the best dribbler on planet Earth, he is a walking highlight reel. That is why the Nets were over the moon when they brought him to the franchise to join Kevin Durant two years ago. But unfortunately, Kyrie cannot be counted on to be available at all times.

For one, his attitude has always been a bit concerning. He forced his way out of Cleveland in an abrupt fashion, effectively ending the Cavaliers' contention in the East as LeBron James eventually left the city again to join Los Angeles. Irving then doesn't act as a leader for the Celtics, going to Brooklyn and leaving Boston surprisingly better without him. With Brooklyn, he has been sensational when he has been on the court. But Irving is constantly generating attention for his off-court behavior, and not for his play anymore. Luckily, the Nets were able to find a stop-gap in 2021 with the hopes of Irving focusing on his basketball.

The Nets broke the news when they traded for 3-time scoring champion James Harden last year, creating a Big Three that might be the most talented in NBA history. Brooklyn went all-in with their chips, hoping that their unstoppable offense would deliver championships. If not for untimely injuries to Harden and Irving in last season’s playoffs, the Nets would have likely won the NBA championship. But it did not happen, and they seemingly had a chance to go for it again this year.

Unfortunately, local New York policies prevent unvaccinated players from being able to participate in sports teams. That means Kyrie is unavailable for the Nets in all home games, and the franchise had to make a decision whether to play the point guard in away games or sit him out for the season until vaccination rules change. For Brooklyn, they decided on the latter to focus on the players that are available at all times. For chemistry purposes, having Kyrie in and out of the lineup was not going to cut it for their title hopes.

With Kyrie refusing vaccination, the Nets can replace him with a better player in Damian Lillard. Lillard made the NBA 75th Anniversary Team due to his superstar impact with the Trail Blazers and has been one of the top-two point guards in the NBA for the past 6 years at least. What Lillard brings to the game is an unstoppable offensive ability, as evidenced by his track record. Over 10 seasons with Portland, Lillard has averaged 24.6 PPG and 6.6 APG on 37.3% shooting from three and 43.7% from the field. He made it to the Western Conference Finals with just CJ McCollum by his side, so imagine what he could do with Durant and Harden by his side?

Brooklyn Nets are still title contenders with just Durant and Harden, although the latter has struggled greatly this season. With Harden not playing like himself and a roster filled with veterans and role players, the Nets need to find a replacement for Kyrie Irving in order to ensure a Finals appearance. Because at the moment, the Nets look like a team that is behind the Bucks and Heat in the East. With Lillard, Brooklyn Nets are getting a third 30-PPG scorer who can deliver in the clutch when Durant is covered. As great as Durant, Harden, and Irving were as a trio; Lillard replacing Irving would create the greatest trio of offensive players ever assembled on one team and it would not be close.

As things stand, the Nets are behind the Bucks who have 3 All-Star caliber players. The Nets have two, and one of them is not playing up to par. Milwaukee Bucks are reigning champions and have all the confidence in the world that they are the team to beat Meanwhile, the Heat also have 3 All-Star players and the signing of PJ Tucker makes them extremely formidable. Brooklyn will find it difficult to compete with these two teams if Irving is sidelined, and moving him for Lillard means they are once again the best team in the East without a shadow of a doubt.

Portland Trail Blazers Rebuild But Make It Look Flashy

Kyrie Irving - Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers will likely never win a championship with the current roster, even if Damian Lillard continues to play like an MVP candidate as he has over the past few years. Lillard is a fantastic scorer, but he needs other stars that complement his playing style for him to make a difference. The team is built with players who do similar things, and others that do not do anything spectacular. CJ McCollum is a fantastic offensive player and has averaged over 20 PPG the past 6 seasons. But he is only 6’3” and 190 lbs, making him closely built to his superstar teammate Damian Lillard.

Having two guards under 6’6” and under 200lbs each means they are relatively undersized in a league run by large guards and forwards. Not to mention, neither player is defensively inclined. Lillard is considered a pushover on defense and is not blessed with the defensive IQ of some of the other stars in the league. McCollum, for all his natural offensive skills, is not a defensive stopper either. Both guards can act like sieves on defense, and that is not a recipe for success. For many years, pundits believed that Portland should have traded McCollum years ago for a player that can complement Lillard better.

Anytime Dame is on the floor, Portland Trail Blazers have enough offense. But they seem hell-bent on keeping McCollum whose value is not as high as Lillard’s. That means the Trail Blazers need to cut ties with Lillard, a superstar who could be requesting a trade at some point this season. Jusuf Nurkic is a capable big man, but he is not reliable to stay healthy and is often out of the lineup. Normal Powell was brought back, but other than being a solid two-way player, he is not a difference-maker. Robert Covington is not a star by any means, and the rest of the team is built on role players playing around two scorers in Lillard and McCollum.

For Portland, they should look ahead to next season’s draft. There is plenty of talent coming into the league next year, including capable big men with tons of potential on both sides of the court. The Trail Blazers cannot keep getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs, and generating max value for Lillard is a great way for the team to move forward with an immediate rebuild. But it will not be any ordinary rebuild, but one that will include a walking highlight-reel in Kyrie Irving.

In many ways, Portland might not have a choice. Lillard will not accept mediocrity for too long and neither should the Trail Blazers. Making a swap for Kyrie gives the Trail Blazers a win-win if he plays or not.

If Kyrie signs the extension with Brooklyn and is committed to being on the floor, Portland Trail Blazers are getting a 29-year old superstar in his prime. That means Irving can offer 2 more years than Lillard (31) can, and can replace much of Lillard’s offense. Kyrie is not as good as Dame, but can still be an effective scorer for them as they continue to rebuild their team. That means CJ McCollum is likely out the door, and so is Jusuf Nurkic. Trading those two starters can give the Trail Blazers a better chance at missing the playoffs, keeping Kyrie, and trying to find draft assets going forward. Of course, Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton are perfect players for a rebuild.

Bruce Brown is 25 years old and already has playoff experience under his belt, making him a solid building block for at least another 7 years. Nic Claxton is a raw 22-year old big man with athleticism and length, and he could potentially be an effective rim-runner and defender as well. Getting Kyrie, Brown, and Claxton is not a bad return for a departing superstar who is nearly 32 years old. Of course, Kyrie brings “Showtime” basketball to Portland to appease fans who might be unnerved that their franchise star is gone.

The other scenario involved Kyrie deciding to not play, in which Portland can tank the season away for draft picks. Without Lillard, the team can focus on trading away McCollum and their other starters for a chance at some of the high-value prospects including Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Hardy. With Irving not on the court and Lillard gone, Portland can go full rebuild which could place them in a better position to be competitive going forward than they are now.

The Western Conference is stacked with talent at the moment, and realistically, making the bottom two playoff seeds is what they can hope for. The Lakers, Warriors, Jazz, Nuggets, Suns, Mavericks, and Grizzlies are all considered better teams than Portland right now. If Irving does not play and begins causing more off-court drama, it could be to the Trail Blazers’ benefit to tank and start losing games.


Ranking All 30 NBA Teams’ Big 3 If They Kept Every Player They Drafted

10 NBA Stars Who Need New Teams And Their Best Possible Destinations

5 Times The Chicago Bulls Almost Traded Scottie Pippen: Blockbuster Deals For Tracy McGrady And Shawn Kemp Fell Through

The Blockbuster Trade That Almost Happened: The Splash Bros Would’ve Never Existed If The Warriors Accepted This Deal

Stephen Curry vs. Allen Iverson Comparison: Two Unbelievable Superstars That Changed The Game