The Knicks just finished a dream season. They beat all odds to reach the playoffs and secured the fourth seed. They played gritty, high-intensity basketball that ultimately won them games. Down in Portland, Oregon, the same cannot be said. Although there was a clear improvement from last year, Damian Lillard‘s side was once again knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. The star point guard remains ringless at 30 years old and may look for a way out of Rip City. Although the Knicks have already made a call to the Portland front office about him, it remains to be seen how likely a trade actually is. Although Lillard is surely considering a move, multiple things must be considered first.
The Portland Coaching Situation
With Terry Stotts and the Trailblazers mutually parting ways, Portland’s new coach will likely have a big impact if Damian Lillard stays with the team. While Dame Dolla named Jason Kidd as his first choice to replace Stotts, the former guard has come out and said he will not be taking the job. There are few top candidates who aren’t already currently coaching a team so finding an adequate replacement will be difficult. Lillard’s new choice will likely have a significant impact on the next coach in Oregon. However, if the coach isn’t to his liking, he may reconsider his future.
What it’ll Cost New York to Trade for Him
As one of the best guards in basketball, it surely won’t be easy to pry Damian Lillard away from Portland. However, they have some solid pieces that could entice Neil Olshey. A trade involving Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin, and four first-round picks could be enough to sway Olshey. Otherwise, it may not even be worth it for New York to throw away a big part of their future for the chance that what will be a 31-year-old guard to lead the Knicks in a highly competitive league to a title. However, it’s definitely possible if Julius Randle continues to play at the level he was at throughout the past season and RJ Barrett can break out, which isn’t wishful thinking.
For the Trailblazers, making this move would be conceding defeat and they will reset and rebuild with some solid pieces. There’s clear potential in Toppin and Robinson, and numerous picks should help as well. While they wouldn’t make this move if Lillard is content in Oregon, they may be forced to if he requests a trade.
Is it Really Realistic?
While Knicks fans can fantasize about Damian Lillard lighting up MSG on a nightly basis, the move currently isn’t that likely. The Knicks have a clear interest in Lillard and teased NBA fans with cryptic Instagram captions. His latest caption is a quote from the deceased Nipsey Hussle after getting knocked out of the playoffs:
“How long should I stay dedicated? How long til opportunity meets preparation?”
There are a host of teams interested in Lillard. However, the Knicks have the picks and younger players that other teams are reluctant to offer. If he does request a trade, New York will be desperate to make a deal. However, for now, fans wait as he contemplates his future with the Portland Trailblazers.