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.