What Is The Best Trade Offer For Damian Lillard?

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers

It’s time to jump into the NBA Trade Machine and come up with unrealistic trades for Damian Lillard. To quote Michael Keaton in Batman, “You wanna get nuts? Come on! Let’s get nuts!”

Who says no first?

The entire NBA community is waiting for Lillard to demand a trade out of Portland, and the first domino fell this past Sunday when Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reported that the inability to build a contender and the hiring of Chauncey Billups could push Dame out of town. Haynes is as locked in with Blazers’ news as one can be due to his time spent covering the team and his relationship with Dame so I believe this story.

The story is not a direct trade request, but the groundwork for a future trade has been set. The ball is in Dame’s court. If he wants out, he can go right to management and ask for a trade. Due to his loyalty to the organization, I don’t know if Dame has it in him to publicly request a trade. However, stories like Haynes’s might be a way for Dame to express his frustration with the Blazers and ask the front office for a trade privately.

Because of this story, every single GM should call the Blazers to discuss Lillard’s availability. Dame is one of the 10 best players in the NBA and a true cornerstone for a franchise. Did you watch what he did in Game 5 of the opening round of the playoffs? Imagine if Lillard finally teamed up with other superstars to form a superteam? It’s a scary thought.

Let’s take Lillard’s opinion out of this conversation for one second because we all know he wants to end up on the New York Knicks. (Yeah, I went there.) But seriously, Lillard will have a say in where he wants to end up, but let’s pretend he doesn’t. Which team provides the best trade offer?

Unlike my LeBron for Lillard trade, I’m going to keep this realistic, which means the real trade will be Anthony Davis for Lillard.

Shut up, Dan.

OK, here are some real packages I’ve been seeing that could make sense.

Celtics trade Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, younger players, and multiple first-round picks to the Blazers for Lillard.

Sixers trade Ben Simmons, younger players, and multiple first-round picks to the Blazers for Lillard.

Knicks trade RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and multiple first-round picks to the Blazers for Lillard.

Thunder trade every first-round pick known to man and players to match salaries for Lillard.

Warriors trade Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, a younger player, the 2021 No. 7 pick, 2021 No. 14 pick, and pick swaps for Lillard.

Pelicans trade Brandon Ingram, younger players, and A LOT of first-round picks for Lillard.

Every team could (and should) create a trade package for Dame. If the Blazers trade Lillard, do they want an ungodly amount of first-round picks or will they only request a few firsts if they receive a talented player in return?

Out of all the trades listed above, the Celtics have the best offer. Brown is an ascending star with a huge upside. Having Brown and multiple first-round picks to build around is a nice consolation prize. Plus, he’s under a fair contract until 2024 so the Blazers have time to construct a winning roster around the 24-year-old.

As good as Boston’s trade might be, there’s still another offer for Lillard that I haven’t mentioned yet. It happens to be the best offer for Lillard. That offer belongs to the Denver Nuggets.

Lillard for Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. is the best offer for the Blazers if their goal is to receive as much talent in return as possible. Murray is a budding star-guard in the NBA who was averaging 21 points per game before tearing his ACL in April. An ACL injury may be a cause for concern, but medicine has come so far in the last 20 years that he could return by the first-quarter of 2022. Barring a huge setback, Murray should return to full strength by the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Plus, for salary cap purposes, the 24-year-old is under his rookie max extension until 2025 so the Blazers have a solid building block for the future.

*For the Dame-Murray/Porter Jr. trade to happen, there are some salary cap issues that Denver would have to maneuver around including Will Barton’s player option. If Barton declines his option, it’s easier to make the trade for Lillard. If Barton opts-in, then Denver would probably have to trade him, which shouldn’t be an issue because many teams would want Barton for at least one year.

Then there’s Porter Jr., who fell down draft boards to No. 14 in 2018 because of a bad medical report. After averaging 19 points per game this past season, many teams regret passing on the talented 23-year-old. Porter Jr. is an electric scorer who hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential. He’s a 6’10” forward who can create his own shot and hover around 40% from behind the arc. Porter Jr. is a special offensive player who could be a 25-points-per-game scorer in the future.

If the Nuggets want to keep either Murray or Porter Jr., the Nuggets could package one of those stars with multiple first-round picks attached. However, the best deal for Portland is to get both Murray and Porter Jr.

Why would the Nuggets trade two of their star players? Teams need to be more willing to sacrifice young stars for a hall of fame talent like Dame. Once again, did you watch Game 5 of their first-round series? Lillard is one of the three best guards in the NBA. Pairing Dame with Nikola Jokic expedites Denver’s title chances. The Nuggets go from a team on the fringe of being a contender to an immediate contender in the West. With Dame’s ability to create his own shot and Joker’s dynamic passing, this duo would be one of the best in the NBA.

Now, all we can do is wait for Lillard to make a move. Denver, get on the phone.

What do you think the best trade would be for Damian Lillard? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Portland Trail Blazers have quietly loaded up for the Western Conference

Damien Lillard Portland Trail Blazers NBA offseason

Most of the attention in the western conference during this absolutely insane NBA offseason has gone to the California teams – the Lakers adding Anthony Davis and striking out elsewhere, the Warriors losing Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins and of course the Clippers forming a superteam of their own with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. However, rather quietly, the Portland Trail Blazers – who I remind you are fresh off an appearance in the Western Conference Finals – have retooled their team and are ready to make another deep run in the playoffs.

Last year’s run was aided by two extremely beneficial mid-season acquisitions, center Enes Kanter and wing Rodney Hood. Both were role players who ended up playing significant minutes during the playoffs; Kanter thanks to a late-season injury to starter Jusuf Nurkic and Hood simply because he showed up and filled the role of athletic scorer off the bench – something Portland was desperately missing for most of the season.

However, Portland didn’t want to wait until midseason to re-shape their roster again. After proclaiming that there would not be any fireworks at the start of free agency, Blazers general manager Neil Olshey oversaw seven players depart via free agency or trade, and brought in five new players. So much for no fireworks.

Analyzing Portland’s Moves

Portland’s biggest acquisition, in importance and size, is former Heat center Hassan Whiteside. Acquired in a trade that sent Meyers Leonard to Miami and Moe Harkless to the Clippers, Whiteside will be a one-year stopgap while Nurkic recovers. Sure, Whiteside has had his issues with attitude and effort, but in a contract year and with Damian Lillard’s no-nonsense approach to leadership, Whiteside has the opportunity to really thrive in this environment.

The trade clears out two expiring contracts in Leonard and Harkless, and frees up third-year Zach Collins to start at the power forward spot now that both Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu, who signed with the Magic, are gone.

The team also dealt backup guard Evan Turner to Atlanta for wing Kent Bazemore, a move that saw two massive contracts exchange hands. Bazemore gives Portland an experienced outside shooter and defensive player, effectively replacing Aminu and Seth Curry, who signed with Dallas, in one player.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Blazers also brought in backup power forward Anthony Tolliver and wing Mario Hezonja, two veteran bench players who are capable of scoring in droves.

Projecting The Portland Trail Blazers’ Lineup

A projected starting five of Whiteside, Collins, Hood, McCollum and Lillard doesn’t look much better than last year’s squad – if at all – but a backup unit that includes Tolliver, Hezonja, Bazemore, Anfernee Simons and rookie Nassir Little – who many believe will be the steal of the draft – should do a lot of damage in a suddenly wide-open Western Conference.

That’s not even included Nurkic, who gives this team a huge boost with his projected return in February.

California’s three teams may be getting all of the attention, but it could be the other west coast team that finds itself in the NBA Finals next season.

The Greatest Buzzer Beaters In NBA Playoffs History

NBA greatest game winners and buzzer beaters in NBA history

It’s hard to find anything in basketball more thrilling and exciting than a buzzer beater. Just like a walk-off in baseball, buzzer beaters are the ultimate “go home” moment. Buzzer beaters can add to a player’s legacy and their reputation as a clutch performer. After Damian’s Lillard miraculous game-winner against the Thunder, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and list the greatest buzzer-beaters in NBA Playoffs history. Just a couple weeks later, Kawhi Leonard hit the first buzzer-beater in a Game 7. Some of the greatest players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James have hit game winners.

Big Shot Rob Beats The Kings- Robert Horry

There’s a reason why Robert Horry is known as “Big Shot Rob.” (Some might refer to him as “Big Shot Bob” depending on who you talk to.) Horry is widely known as one of the greatest clutch players and winners in NBA history. Horry is a seven-time NBA champion, but I’ll remember Horry for his game-winning three-pointer against the Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Think about this. Horry wasn’t the first or second option on this play. Kobe Bryant missed his attempt and then Shaq missed his attempt. However, after a Vlade Divac tip out to try and clear the ball, Horry was “Johnny on the Spot” and grabbed the loose ball and sunk the winning shot. This was just another example of Big Shot Rob doing Big Shot Rob things.

LeBron James Delivers Game Winner

It’s hard to create any list and not have a play from LeBron James on it. LeBron is not known for his outside shot, but in crunch time, LeBron can hit a deep jumper. Down two points to the Magic with one second left, LeBron put on his Superman cape and hit a spectacular three-pointer to nod the series at 1. Unfortunately, the Cavs went on to lose the series, 4-2. I call this the “Series That Ruined Everything” because had LeBron and the Cavs won the East, they would have faced Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Thanks a lot, Hedo Türkoğlu and Rashard Lewis.

Dame Called Game- Damian Lillard

Is this a case of recency bias? Maybe, but the buildup for this buzzer beater was spectacular. I am pro trash talking in sports if you can back it up. If you back up your talk, never shut up. However, when you’re down 2-1 in a series and Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder are taunting like they’re about to sweep the Blazers, then you must back it up or you will look silly. It’s safe to say Westbrook and Schroder look like fools right now. In one of the greatest playoff performances I have ever seen, Damian Lillard scored 50 points including the game-winning 37-footer to send the Thunder into the offseason. Dame called game and waved bye-bye.

The Fish Who Saved LA- Derek Fisher

In terms of the degree of difficulty, Derek Fisher’s 2004 buzzer beater over the Spurs is one of the toughest shots ever made to win a game. Luck definitely played a factor in the setup to this hot. With .4 seconds on the clock, there is enough time to catch and shoot. If it’s .2 seconds less, then it has to be a tip in. Also, the ball was being inbounded on the left side of the court so Fisher was watching the ball on his strong side. If he catches it on the opposite side of the court, the odds of him making the shot are practically zero. What’s crazy is before Fisher’s shot, Tim Duncan made an equally impressive fadeaway at the top of the key. Fisher saved LA this series.

Kawhi Leonard Gets Four Bounces For Buzzer Beater

Kawhi Leonard hit the first game-winning buzzer beater in a Game 7 in NBA Playoffs history. This shot rivals Derek Fisher for the most difficult on this list. He ended the series against the Philadephia 76ers with a ridiculous fadeaway shot over the outstretched hand of 7’2″ Joel Embiid. The most insane part of the shot was that it seemingly hit every part of the rim before bouncing in. The crowd stood still and every person watching was silent for what seemed like an eternity. Skip Bayless said the shot was lucky. I believe it was 100% skill.

Michael Jordan Hits “The Shot” x2

Poor Craig Ehlo. Out of all the clutch plays in Michael Jordan’s career, this is the one that started it all. This play changed the course of history not only in Jordan’s career but the landscape of the NBA. In Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round, the 6-seeded Chicago Bulls were down one point to the 3-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers with three seconds on the clock. Jordan defeated a double team to catch the ball, dribbled to the middle of the cylinder, hung in the air, and hit the shot to send the Bulls to the next round. Although the Bulls went on to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals, this shot was the catalyst for the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s. Speaking of Ehlo, what’s forgotten is the fact that Ehlo hit a layup to give the Cavs the lead before Jordan hit a buzzer beater. However, now he’s known as the defender in “The Shot.”

*Note: Despite being the most iconic shot in NBA history, Michael Jordan’s shot over Bryon Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals was NOT a buzzer beater. There were five seconds left on the clock after his make. I’ll hear the argument for less than two seconds left on the clock as a buzzer beater, but not five.

What buzzer beaters are on your list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter, @unafraidshow.