Will Damian Lillard be a member of the Portland Trail Blazers next season?
Everybody on the planet seems to be waiting for Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard to request a trade. If you look through Twitter, you’ll see hundreds of fake trade ideas sending the seven-time All-Star to teams like the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets. But as of this moment, Lillard has -175 odds to play his next regular season minutes as a member of the Blazers at DraftKings Sportsbook.
While everyone seems to want to see Lillard force his way out of Rip City, the 2018 All-NBA First Teamer has repeatedly said that he wants to finish his career with one franchise. However, Lillard also says he wants to compete for NBA titles. And the Blazers aren’t exactly prepared to do that with their current roster.
Portland does have the third pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, so that makes this Blazers offseason very interesting. With Brandon Miller likely to be selected second by the Charlotte Hornets, Portland could add Scoot Henderson to its young core. But Henderson is a pure point guard. That makes the fit with Lillard a little wonky.
Nobody can blame Portland for going with the best player available at No. 3, especially with Lillard turning 33 years old in July. But Lillard has apparently made it clear that he wants the Blazers to deal that pick for a proven veteran. Some of the names that have been mentioned in trade rumors are Paul George, Pascal Siakam and Bam Adebayo. And the reality is that the Blazers just might be able to get one of them with Henderson likely to be available at their pick.
With Portland’s selection now offering teams a golden ticket to select one of the best point guard prospects we’ve ever seen, I’d say it’s likely that the Blazers find a way to please Lillard on Thursday. That makes the -175 odds on Lillard to play his next game with Portland rather favorable. Lillard isn’t going anywhere if his front office can deliver him a legitimate running mate to compete in the Western Conference.
Even if the Blazers don’t end up acquiring a star, it’s still hard to see Lillard forcing his way out of Portland. This is a player that has been loyal to a fault throughout his career, and it’s just hard to see somebody so stubborn actually putting the Blazers decision makers in that position. Portland also happens to have the 23rd pick in the draft. So, the team could look to trade that pick, along with another asset or two, for an upgrade in its starting lineup. George, Siakam and Adebayo might be on a completely different level, but players like Zach LaVine, Deandre Ayton and Kristaps Porzingis are also rumored to be available.
It’s just hard to picture Lillard starting the season in anything other than a Blazers uniform. But if you do think that Portland will move the superstar, you can do a lot worse than betting Lillard to play his next minutes for the Nets. He’s listed at +1800 to end up in Brooklyn and has openly said that he wouldn’t mind playing there. The Nets also happen to have the most first-round picks to offer, making them a great potential trade partner for the Blazers.
The Heat are seemingly his preferred destination, but they can’t come close to touching a potential Nets package. That would mean that Lillard would have to strong-arm Portland into dealing him to Miami, and nothing he has done in the past suggests he’d do that.