Reports linking Lillard to the Lakers have circulated since LeBron James decided to come to LA in 2018. The latest is from Mike Berman of the New York Post.
“If scoring point guard Lillard asks for a trade, it’s believed the Knicks or Lakers would be his choices,” Berman wrote in his mailbag column on Saturday.
"If scoring point guard Lillard asks for a trade, it’s believed the Knicks or Lakers would be his choices."
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) July 4, 2020
Lillard recently agreed to a four-year, super-max extension with Portland that puts him under contract until the 2023-24 season, with a player-option for the following year. While there have been some frustrating moments, Lillard has committed to the franchise, saying in the past he wants to be the best Blazer of all-time when all is said and done.
“I want to be the best Trail Blazer ever. And I think, it’s bigger than basketball to me. I think, obviously, you have to have the numbers to back it up which I am already on track for,” Lillard said when talking about his goals for his career via Billboard. “I’m second in points. I think I am top three in assists. Free throws made, three pointers made, I’m No. 1. Like I’m up there as far as the stats. I think just continue to win. We’ve had three 50-plus win seasons in my seven seasons, one that wasn’t a 50-win season was a 49-win season. I’ve been All-NBA four times. I was first team All-NBA. I’ve been on four All-Star teams. Played in the Western Conference Finals this past year. I hold the [team’s] single-game scoring record. All these records, like everything. I just think an MVP, a championship.”
Blazers' Terry Stotts on Damian Lillard's 50-point game & series-clinching buzzer-beater: "Damian's performance was probably the best performance I've seen in person." pic.twitter.com/7jVI55D3c8
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 24, 2019
Damian Lillard Would Welcome Lakers Matchup in Playoffs
Lillard is one of the NBA’s premier point guards and was in the midst of his best NBA season before things were put on hold due to coronavirus. He was averaging a career-best 28.9 points per game and 7.8 assists, keeping the Blazers afloat after a tough start to the season and still within striking distance of a playoff spot. He dropped one of his best games of the season against the Lakers in late January when he put up 48 points in a 127-119 victory.
Dame went off for 48 points the last time he faced the Lakers 👀 pic.twitter.com/WGiBwtErQM
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 11, 2020
Lillard and his Blazers could be on a collision course to see the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, depending on how the seeding games play out in Orlando. Portland is occupying the No. 9 spot and are 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies. Lillard recently said in a Vanity Fair interview that he’d welcome a playoff matchup with the Lakers.
“Of course,” Lillard said. “I think we could beat them.”
LeBron James Has Been Complimentary of Damian Lillard
Lakers star LeBron James has been very complimentary of Lillard in the past, saying he uses the thought that he’s underappreciated or underestimated as motivation to churn out big performances.
“I like how he uses that. If you’re a true basketball [mind] — there’s not a lot of true basketball minds and people that understand the game — but for me, I understand it. I know,” James said in 2018. “Give me Damian Lillard. I’ll show you how appreciated he’ll be.”
Lillard hasn’t been shy to shower James with compliments as well, going as far to back him in the MVP race this season.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 28, 2020
“If you said either one, I feel like nobody would have a problem with it. But me personally, this season, I think it’s LeBron,” Lillard told ESPN. “They’re the No. 1 team in the West. They’ve been consistent all year long. For him to be at the age he’s at, with the amount of miles that he has on his body, how often he’s talked about, the pressure that they put on him in every little thing that he does, and the level that he’s performing at—I feel like he’s the MVP.”
Lillard would be quite the addition for the Lakers “Big 3” along side James and Anthony Davis. Currently, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook make up the Lakers point guard depth (all three are signed through 2021). However, LeBron has functioned as a point-forward for the Lakers this season, averaging a career-best 10.6 assists per game.