The Cleveland Browns of the National Football League, currently have better title odds than 24 NBA teams do next season. Yes, you read that correctly. The bottom 3.2% of teams in the NFL have a greater chance of winning a title than 80% of NBA teams right now.
The reality of the NBA at the moment is that it will be at least two to three years before the Warriors and LeBron James begin to slow down. Unless you have the generational talent that only four NBA teams possess, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to compete for an NBA title over the next few seasons.
After this two to three-year window closes for the Warriors and LeBron James, the league will be wide open. With that being said, this trade scenario will likely make more sense.
The Portland Trailblazers are in an interesting spot. Although they are not a lottery team, they are not in title contention. Simply put, they ARE NOT beating any of the current NBA powerhouses in a 7-game-series. The upside for the Blazers is that they are young. They recently re-signed their star center Jusuf Nurkic (23 years old) to a multi-year deal, while C.J. McCollum (26 years old) has developed into one of the four best shooting guards in the NBA. More importantly, they have Damian Lillard.
Lillard will be 28-years-old by the time the 2018-19 NBA season starts, and the Blazers still have a few more years of development before they will be ready to compete in the playoffs. Earlier in this article, I spoke about the two to a three-year window that the Warriors and LeBron James have to dominate the league before they leave their prime. Well, by the time the Warriors and LeBron begin to slow down, Lillard will be 31 years old.
However, The Los Angeles Lakers are in a position where they need to WIN in that two to a three-year window, as they have been gifted a 33-year-old LeBron James, who will be 34-years-old by the end of 2018. So, with the clock ticking, the Lakers are now scrambling to find players that are ready to “win now”. It’s time for Neil Olshey to call Magic Johnson and make a deal. Here is the proposed trade.
The Los Angeles Lakers receive: Damian Lillard
The Portland Trailblazers receive: Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and a 1st Round Pick
Why Should The Lakers Make This Trade?
The Lakers make this trade simply because they get the best player in the deal. They acquire Damian Lillard who has solidified himself as a top-five point guard in the league. In fact, his numbers would suggest that you can make a case for him being a top-three point guard in the league.
In Lillard, the Lakers get a player who can create his own shot, close out games, and more importantly, allow LeBron to rest during games without having his team get blown out. This was Cleveland’s biggest downfall last year, LeBron had to play all 48 minutes for Cleveland to even have a chance at winning in the playoffs.
In this deal, the Lakers also get to keep Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart who are steadily improving and can provide some of the outside shooting that LeBron requires in his offense. The “cherry on top” for the Lakers would be reducing the amount of outside noise created by Lavar Ball, who has already taken aim at new Los Angeles Laker Rajon Rondo, calling him “a little back-up” at the PG position. This trade makes sense both on, and off the basketball court.
Why Should The Trail Blazers Make This Trade?
This goes back to what I discussed earlier. Portland should be aiming to peak around two to four seasons from now. Lonzo would fit in well with the Blazers, as he isn’t an isolation scorer and wouldn’t get in McCollum’s way. However, what Lonzo does provide is something that the Blazers need, the ability to defend his position, improve all of the young talents around him and rebound the basketball.
The Blazers would also likely see a spike in jersey sales, as there is no denying that Lonzo is “box office”. Love him or hate him, most NBA fans are keeping an eye on Lonzo and would watch Blazers’ games just to watch him play. Now, moving on to perhaps the best part of this deal for the Blazers, Brandon Ingram. When entering the league, Ingram was marketed as “the next Kevin Durant” by a large portion of the media, but he has been “flying under the radar” ever since. He didn’t hit the ground running as fast as well all assumed he would, but the potential is there. He improved drastically in his sophomore season, increasing his scoring average from 9 PPG to 16 PPG, and he is only getting better.
Playing under head coach Terry Stotts while working with the Blazers’ training staff, would really help Ingram’s development, and I have no doubt that he could become a 23/24 PPG, 7 RPG player. The best part for the Blazers is that by the time Lonzo, Ingram, Nurkic and McCollum enter their prime, the current NBA powerhouses would have slowed down and they would be able to make a run in the playoffs.
Many analysts believe that one NBA team always “wins the trade”, but I don’t necessarily believe that’s always the case. In this scenario, I believe that both teams would get exactly what they need.
The Lakers would acquire the talent they need to help LeBron win during his final “prime years”, and the Blazers would add some young talent that will allow them to contend in the West once the Warriors and LeBron begin to slow down. I think it’s a win-win scenario.