You probably heard last year about the once-in-a-lifetime trade that sent All-Star point guard Damian Lillard to the Portland Trailblazers, for two role players, Willie Reed and a first round draft pick. The deal seemed like an awful one for the Blazers, who had just traded a franchise icon away for two role players and a first round draft pick. After all, the Blazers were a top team in the Western Conference and their second-best player was their best. However, it turns out it was just a mirage. The Blazers actually weren’t that good this year; they finished 19-15, good for a tie for fourth in the conference, and Lillard was still the Blazers’ best player
The Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers have both had their fair share of struggles this season and are currently sitting at 14-28. The Blazers are struggling partially because of the injury to leading scorer CJ McCollum, but are also suffering from a lack of depth, which has made it difficult for them to remain competitive. The Kings are struggling because of their lack of players that can shoot, and the injury to starting point guard De’Aaron Fox.
The Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings have long been the laughingstocks of the NBA. Yet, both teams have gotten a lot worse since last year. The Trail Blazers have not made the playoffs since 2011, and since then, they have undergone multiple coaching changes. The Kings have had a similar shakeup, and they have only made the playoffs once since 2002.
Contenders would most certainly be willing to make a deal for a star like Damian Lillard. Lillard seems to be attracting attention from non-contending clubs as well.
This summer, Lillard’s future with the Portland Trail Blazers has been a hot subject of conversation. Some of Lillard’s recent remarks, according to Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, hint to “Dame” placing the ball in Portland’s court and referring to the need for major change this summer.
It’s unclear if the Trail Blazers will make Lillard accessible in the future. Regardless, he seems to have a never-ending supply of potential admirers.
Damian Lillard has yet to make an official request for a trade.
Last week, rumors regarding Lillard’s dissatisfaction abounded.
Early on Friday, reports emerged that Lillard was about to request a trade. However, Lillard later denied that he was seeking a trade, but he did say in an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes that the team as a whole has to “perform better” to win.
Lillard will not be moved by the Trail Blazers. Even if he eventually requests a trade, they may not be interested in dealing with him.
The six-time All-Star is one of the league’s greatest point guards. Last season, Lillard averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game, shooting over 45 percent from the field and over 40 percent from beyond the arc. He was selected to the NBA Second Team for the sixth time in his career. He is also still in his peak.
Lillard is just 31 years old and is about to begin the first year of a supermax contract he signed with Portland in 2019. The Oakland native is a valuable contributor to the team.
If Lillard decides to go, the Trail Blazers may find themselves in a difficult situation. That moment hasn’t arrived… yet.
Lillard is being pursued by the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets.
If Lillard asks for a trade, he’ll almost certainly want to go to a contender. However, the Trail Blazers aren’t obligated to grant that request, which may open the way for other clubs looking to make a splash.
The Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets are two clubs who may be interested in making a major move.
The Kings and Rockets, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, are among the “most aggressive suitors” for Lillard. Given the condition of each brand, this comes as a bit of a shock.
The Kings haven’t reached the playoffs since 2006, and aside of point guard De’Aaron Fox, they don’t have much star power. Meanwhile, the Rockets finished the season with the poorest record in the NBA and are urgently trying to rebuild after selling James Harden.
Furthermore, does either club have the necessary assets to make a reasonable offer for Lillard?
What kind of proposals the Kings and Rockets could make
Is it possible for the Kings or Rockets to land Lillard? | Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Executives informed O’Connor that in a hypothetical Damian Lillard deal, the return would be comparable to, if not better than, what the Rockets got for Harden. This, along with the money remaining on Lillard’s contract, may make a trade between Sacramento and Houston difficult.
Buddy Hield and 2020 first-round selection Tyrese Haliburton, as well as draft money, may be sent to Portland, potentially including the No. 9 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. But, given the potential he showed in his first season, would Sacramento really want to part with Haliburton? Instead, the Kings may attempt to include Harrison Barnes in a trade, but it’s unclear if the Trail Blazers are interested in his contract.
A deal might be much more difficult for the Rockets to complete. Without moving John Wall, the financials are almost impossible, and it’s difficult to see Portland being too excited about obtaining Wall. That would seem to require the Rockets giving a bunch of draft choices to the Trail Blazers.
The Trail Blazers, according to O’Connor, have no plans to trade Lillard at this time. Even still, it’s worth wondering whether the Kings or Rockets have what it takes to be genuine contenders for the top point guard if he becomes available.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
Reggie Miller has said that he would trade these two Lakers for CJ McCollum.
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