The Golden State Warriors could craft a homecoming of sorts for Damian Lillard in one blockbuster trade proposal.
There has been plenty of buzz surrounding Lillard’s future with the Portland Trail Blazers, with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reporting that the backlash from the team’s process in selecting a new head coach was pushing Lillard away from the franchise — and possibly leading to a trade. Haynes also noted that Lillard has shown concerns about whether the franchise could put together a title-contending team, especially after some disappointing playoff exits. Lillard hinted at that frustration after the team’s first-round playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets.
“Obviously, where we are isn’t good enough to win a championship if it’s not good enough to get out of a first-round series with two of their best three or four players not on the floor,” Lillard told reporters after the exit, via ESPN.
That has led to speculation that Lillard could end up on a new team next season, including one proposal that would send him back to the Bay Area.
The latest Warriors news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
Warriors Land Lillard in Blockbuster
In the wake of the rumors that he could be shipped out of Portland, David Aldridge and John Hollinger of The Athletic looked into potential trade scenarios that might be attractive to the Trail Blazers. While the report was prefaced with the caveat that there was almost no chance that Portland would trade him at the moment, it noted that there could be more willingness in the future depending on how the relationship tilts.
As Hollinger noted, the Oakland native could welcome a return to his hometown and the chance to play with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on what he dubbed the “Steroid Splash Brothers.” The deal would also include Nurkic and a host of players and picks from the Warriors.
“Imagine this dream scenario for Golden State: Lillard and Nurkic to the Warriors for [Andrew] Wiggins, [James] Wiseman, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, picks 7 and 14 in 2021 and the Warriors’ first-round picks in 2022 and 2026,” Hollinger wrote.
There are other teams reportedly interested in Lillard, though there is no indication that any talks are serious.
Costly Trade for Warriors
Hollinger noted that the Warriors, if sufficiently motivated, could outbid most other teams interested in Lillard, but it would come at an enormous cost. By adding Lillard to the big contracts already given to Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green, the Warriors would be on the hook for $165 million in salary in 2023-24 — just to those four alone.
“To understand what a mind-boggling figure that is, this year’s projected luxury tax is $136 million,” he noted. “The Warriors would be $30 million past that plank with just a quarter of the roster filled; between that and the repeater penalty, they would easily be looking at writing a nine-figure check to the league.”
While Lillard may be a pipe dream for the Warriors, insiders believe the front office could target other players this offseason as they prepare for the return of Thompson and hope to get back into title contention. Some have named Toronto Raptors big man Pascal Siakam as a potential target, with a package of Wiseman, Wiggins and a series of draft picks pegged as the likely price.