For all the talent Damian Lillard brings to the hardwood, the Portland Trail Blazers star has escaped the first round of the playoffs just once over the past five seasons. For all the great things Jayson Tatum brings to the Boston Celtics‘ lineup, the Cs have floundered around a .500 record ever since their Eastern Conference Finals loss in 2019-20. However, bring the two talents together… well now we might just be talking championships.
Despite the Blazers publically portraying Lillard as untouchable and the six-time All-Star doing his best to shut down recent trade chatter, FS1’s Colin Cowherd isn’t one to simply ax hypotheticals — especially when there happens to be what he views as a “perfect” suitor.
‘That Feels Like a Team that Could Get to the Finals’
In a recent segment on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” the FS1 anchor made his case for why a Lillard-Tatum pairing in Boston would put the Celtics on the fast track to compete for banner No. 18.
“The Celtics are a perfect fit — This is why the Celtics trade we discussed (Wednesday) works,” Cowherd said. “Because Boston has somebody that’s a little bit the opposite of Dame. His name is Jayson Tatum.”
“Now, whereas Dame has great leadership skills, that’s the knock on Tatum. He’s just talented. Whereas Dame has an older body, Tatum only played one year of college and he’s only 23. Whereas Dame isn’t great on the defensive end of the floor, Tatum’s fine. Jayson Tatum and Dame — one’s ascending, one’s an older body who’s still great. But if Dame needs to be your No. 1 every night, then you’re the Portland Trail Blazers. But in Boston, he can be a (No.) 1 occasionally, a (No.) 1A a lot of nights, and then other nights he’s a (No.) 2. And that feels like a team that could get to the Finals,” Cowherd proclaimed.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Cowherd to Lillard: ‘What Do You Want to Be?’
In 20 games this season, Lillard is averaging his lowest scoring output since 2014, putting up 21.4 points per game, while shooting 39.7% from the field and 30.2% from three — both of which mark career worsts. Still, Cowherd is admittedly not all too concerned with the 31-year-old’s chance of turning things around.
However, what he does question is an undersized, aging point guard serving as the clear-cut top option for a team lacking the type of talent around him in order to make legitimate noise in the West. And while Lillard could stay put in the Pacific Northwest and continue to pad his stats and bank account, Cowherd challenges Lillard to seek more — even if it means taking a backseat in the process.
“Dame’s gotta be honest with Dame now. What do you want to be?” Cowherd asked. “If you want to make $50 million a year, you’re not a championship player. But if you want to go to Boston, have the money you have and be willing to be like a (No.) 1A or some nights a (No.) 2, now we’re talking a different arena. Now we’re talking playing in June. Now we’re talking potentially playing in the Finals.”