If you want Damian Lillard, it’s going to cost you — that’s if the Portland Trail Blazers were even willing to budge on a deal. In the Boston Celtics‘ case, the belief is that any chance of adding Lillard to their backcourt would come at the expense of losing first-time All-Star Jaylen Brown.
From Portland’s perspective, such a proposal would certainly be tantalizing. While priority No. 1 is and should remain retaining Lillard, Brown likely presents the best combination of talent and age of any realistic trade offer the franchise would receive for their six-time All-Star point guard.
However, as far as the Celtics go, the majority of the fanbase has aggressively pushed back on any deal proposing a swap of Brown for Lillard — and understandably so. It’s not that Beantown wouldn’t welcome a player of Lillard’s expertise with open arms. It’s more that they oppose the idea of unloading a still-rising talent in Brown, who is seven years Lillard’s junior and comes in at approximately $20 million cheaper on a per-year basis.
Well, in Bleacher Report’s latest column of experts building new blockbuster trades, the Celtics somehow manage to have their cake and eat it too — adding Lillard to the mix and retaining Brown in the process.
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B/R Proposal Ships Lillard to Boston in ‘Blockbuster’
NBA analyst Eric Pincus proposes a massive seven-player, four-pick blockbuster that would ultimately end with Lillard draped in green and white. Here’s how the proposal shakes up and Pincus’ reasoning for why Portland may be so inclined to take Boston up on such an offer:
- Boston Celtics Receive:
- Damian Lillard
- Derrick Jones Jr.
- Portland Trail Blazers receive:
- Al Horford
- Aaron Nesmith
- Romeo Langford
- Grant Williams
- Payton Pritchard
- two first-rounders and two pick swaps
Shedding the contract of Jones Jr. in the process, the Blazers add intriguing pieces in Nesmith and Langford. Pritchard showed value as a rookie, and Williams is an inexpensive forward. Both first-rounders are unprotected, as are the pick swaps from Boston…
The Celtics get a big-time player in Lillard without giving up Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart or Robert Williams. They part with most of their prospects, take on a hefty luxury tax bill, and have a much better chance of competing with the Eastern Conference contenders.
Too Good to Be True, Although…
It’s not as if the Celtics don’t come away scot-free in Pincus’ proposal. They’d essentially scrap their prospect pool dry. Losing Pritchard and Nesmith hurts in particular, as they’ve each flashed starter potential both during stints of last season and more specifically this summer. Moving on from Big Al also isn’t ideal, although the Cs do have the newly re-upped Robert Williams and free-agent signee Enes Kanter to man frontcourt duties.
Still, the trade-off of losing a few “what if” youngsters and a 35-year-old big man, and adding Jones’ $9.7 million expiring contract to the payroll pale in comparison to the benefits Boston would receive in this deal. Boasting a big three of Tatum, Brown and Lillard would give any NBA team’s triplets a run for their money, even Brooklyn’s trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden — which is why this scenario is more than likely too good to be true.
Then again, this offseason has shown cracks in Lillard’s relationship with the Blazers’ organization. He’s continuously left the door open for an exit down the road. And while he’s remained professional throughout, should he get a bit more aggressive in his desire to skip town, trade packages for his services could quickly diminish in talent level.
You don’t need to look any further than Harden’s package that shipped him to Brooklyn as a prime example. For all the blockbuster rumors circulating Harden early last season, all the Nets needed to relinquish from a player perspective to acquire the former MVP was Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert and Rodions Kurucs — nice players, but by no means the types you’d ever second-guess swapping for Harden.