The Portland Trail Blazers have struggled to make noise in the postseason for a long time. Since the arrival of Damian Lillard, who has propelled them to the playoffs in each of his last five seasons, they have yet to make it past the Western Conference Semifinals, and that likely isn’t going to change.
In the current climate of NBA basketball, stars are flocking to already established organizations to increase their chances of winning a championship, and Portland isn’t on the list of desired destinations. In this day in age, no NBA superstar is going to bypass the opportunity to win a ring to join Rip City in a conference that is already stacked with talent. With that being said, it is more than likely that the Blazers will take action to begin the rebuilding process in hopes of being a relevant franchise one day. To accommodate this, it seems as though Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is the most likely to be dealt as he is by far the most valuable asset that this team has to offer.
The only question is: Where could he be traded to?
According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, “Damian Lillard, even though he loves Portland, wouldn’t mind being in L.A. but even more so wouldn’t mind being in New York.”
Lillard has often been overlooked during his stellar NBA career. He was snubbed of two NBA All-Star Games in 2016 and 2017, seasons in which he averaged 25.1 and 27 points per game, respectively. The fact that he prefers to be dealt to LA or New York tells us that he is looking to break that vicious cycle. These cities are the two biggest markets that the NBA has to offer and playing for either team would bring much more attention to his game than Portland ever did.
Dame is a top talent in this league, and its time he is recognized by the entire NBA community as such. Lillard is a former Rookie of the Year, a three-time NBA All-Star, and has been named to three All-NBA teams including being selected to the All-NBA First Team last season. Just to put into perspective how much of an honor this is, the only other players to receive such recognition in 2018 were LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and James Harden.
Bringing Lillard to New York would come at a hefty price, likely costing the organization several young players and draft picks, but acquiring Dame could be an opportunity that the Knicks front office needs to seize to take over the Eastern Conference.
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