Anytime a superstar player finds their name in trade rumors, Boston Celtics fans will dream up scenarios to bring that player to Beantown. Players like Bradley Beal, James Harden, and Damian Lillard have all been connected to the Celtics in one way or another over the past couple of seasons. Well, the latter of those three just made some very intriguing comments.
In a recent interview with Jabari Young of CNBC, Lillard was once again asked about his future with the Portland Trail Blazers. And while he stated that he has “no plans of not being a Portland Trail Blazer,” Lillard also dropped an eye-popping quote later in the interview:
If they came to me and they wanted to trade me – I’m not going to fight them on wanting to trade me. I don’t want to be anywhere I’m not wanted. But I don’t think that’s the case.
For the entire season, Lillard has been pestered about whether or not he wants to leave Portland. With the current state of the Trail Blazers, most fans want to see him “freed” from Portland. But through all of it, Lillard’s loyalty to Portland was clear. And despite the fact that he stated he wants to remain with the Trail Blazers, this quote shows that a move is not off the table, either.
Lillard Connections to Celtics
While Lillard’s name was being thrown around in trade rumors, the Celtics were often brought up as a potential suitor. Multiple outlets mocked up trade ideas that would ship Lillard to Boston. ESPN drafted a deal before the deadline that would have seen AL Horford, Dennis Schroder, Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard, Juancho Hernangomez, and a bunch of picks sent to Portland in exchange for Lillard and other role players.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report even reported that Lillard had an interest in playing with defensive-minded wings, and Jaylen Brown was brought up as one of those names, according to his sources.
But perhaps the most intriguing report came from Adam Taylor of Heavy.com. One league executive told Heavy.com that Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens could be interested in making a move for Lillard:
Brad has a soft spot for him, I know. He is a favorite of his. Small college guy, such a hard worker. They have put themselves in a position to make a move like that. They can build a package around Derrick White and Marcus Smart, with Theis and Nesmith and a pick
The executive also mentioned that Portland may be enticed by a package of Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and some picks. But with how well the Celtics have played this season, they might not be in the market to make a big splash.
Lillard’s Fit With Celtics
With the current defensive scheme that Celtics head coach Ime Udoka runs, Lillard’s fit in Boston could be questionable. Unlike Smart and White, Lillard would struggle to play in the Celtics’ switch-everything defensive system. The 6’2 point guard has never been a great defender.
That being said, Lillard would give the Celtics a huge boost on the offensive end. Putting that sort of perimeter shot creation around Jayson Tatum and Brown would take a ton of pressure off of Boston’s young duo. Plus, with how many great defenders the Celtics already have, they could cover up Lillard’s defensive deficiencies pretty well.
The biggest factor to consider in a potential Lillard trade, though, is the money. Lillard is on the books through the 2024-25 season, and in the final year of his contract, he is set to make roughly $48.8 million at that point. By then, the point guard would be approaching 35 years old.
If Boston does decide to pull the trigger on a Lillard trade, it could end up destroying the defensive wall they have built. At the same time, though, it would give them one of the best Big 3s in the NBA.