Insider Reveals New Details on Lakers’ Pursuit of Damian Lillard

Lakers Rumors

Getty Dame Lillard could have been a Laker.

It was not just Los Angeles Lakers fans with photoshopped images that wanted to make “Dame Time” happen as the front office also considered making a move for Damian Lillard this offseason. The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Shams Charania and Bill Oram reported the Lakers considered adding a number of stars before pulling the trigger on a deal for Russell Westbrook this offseason. LeBron James was part of the process, even setting up his own “war room” to help come up with a plan to add another star to the Lakers roster.

“In the two months that followed their first-round playoff flop against Phoenix, when Davis’ groin injury left them pulling up lame, the Lakers explored the prospect of trading for such stars as Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook,” The Athletic detailed. “The process unfolded well beyond the team’s front office’s search, with James setting up a war room of his own at his Brentwood estate for some in-person player meetings while leading remote communications in other conversations.”

Lillard Was the Lakers’ First Option This Offseason

James and the now-departed Jared Dudley formed a group to come up with a plan to assist the Lakers front office. According to The Athletic, Lillard along with Bradley Beal were viewed as the first options before the group came to the realization that there was “no viable path” to landing either player.

Even if the Blazers were open to trading Lillard, the only real attractive asset the Lakers had to offer at the time was Anthony Davis. This was likely a non-starter given Davis is part of the Klutch Sports group along with James.

“So nearly two years after James had been the driving force in the Davis trade, he was now pairing with AD as a team of power brokers as they evaluated the possible additions,” The Athletic noted. “Dudley’s presence was notable, especially considering the reaction his departure from the team would spark soon after. Dudley offered an acute understanding of the business side of the game, although some sources close to the situation downplayed the impact of his involvement. Throughout James’ career, he has gravitated toward veteran players like Dudley and developed close relationships with them as part of his trusted circle of friends.

“The group focused first on Lillard and Beal, but with no viable path to trading for either of them, turned their attention to more realistic targets: Westbrook, DeRozan, Hield and Kyle Lowry, who would eventually pursue a deal with the Miami Heat instead.”

Dame: ‘I’m Not Going to Be Playing for the Lakers’

Despite rumors of his unhappiness, Lillard is back with the Blazers for the 2021-22 season, but that did not stop the All-Star from having a bit of fun with the Lakers fans. Back in August, Lillard told one fan on Twitter to “bet a million” that he would join the Lakers. During an August 25 interview with Complex, Lillard commented on his cryptic tweet and the ongoing Lakers rumors.

“He said, ‘I would bet anybody that when the season starts, Dame’s going to be playing for the Lakers,’ and the Lakers just traded for Russell Westbrook,” Lillard explained. “So, I’m not going to be playing for the Lakers. We play the same position so like, ‘bet a million.’ Like that’s an easy call.”

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