Damian Lillard’s comments about the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017 have taken on new meaning given the superstar’s increasing unhappiness with the Portland Trail Blazers. At the time, Lillard was asked by a fan where he would like to play if the Blazers were no longer an option.
“If blazers said they didn’t want me… Utah Jazz or Lakers,” Lillard tweeted on June 14, 2017.
The old tweet has once again gone viral with all eyes on Lillard’s future this offseason. For context, the tweet came a little more than one year after Kobe Bryant retired and before LeBron James or Anthony Davis headed west.
We know Lillard maintains a close relationship with James, but the Lakers will find it challenging to put together an appealing trade package for the Blazers star. The Lakers can only offer their current draft pick along with selections beginning in 2027 as a result of the Davis trade with the Pelicans. With limited draft capital and few tradeable assets, the Lakers only realistic chance of landing Lillard would be a blockbuster deal involving Davis.
Backlash Over the Blazers’ Coaching Search Could Push Lillard ‘Out the Door’
Rumors involving Lillard have heated up since the Blazers had another first-round playoff exit, and Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes recently threw gasoline onto this speculation. Haynes reported that the backlash Lillard has received for the Blazers hiring Chauncey Billups could push the All-Star “out the door.”
“The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers’ process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player — Damian Lillard — out the door, league sources told Yahoo Sports,” Haynes noted. “Lillard has remained loyal to Portland in large part due to the tremendous fan base. But over the last few days, he’s seen some of those same fans attacking him on social media for a pending coaching hire he played no part in consummating, sources said.”
The Lakers’ Chances of Landing Dame Revolve Around a Deal with A.D.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst explained on The Hoop Collective podcast that he does not believe Lillard is to the point of demanding a trade. It will be a situation that the Lakers and other teams are likely going to continue to monitor moving forward. If the Blazers begin listening to offers, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes LeBron James will get involved in trying to get Lillard to Los Angeles.
“Well, they [Blazers] better handle their business, because, listen, let me tell you something right now, LeBron’s already out there,” Smith said on a June 5th episode of First Take. “He’s going to try to recruit, he’s going to try to recruit. You know they’re going to try to get somebody to L.A., there’s no question about it. Again, we’ve already spent time talking about Damian Lillard. What if Damian Lillard ended up changing his mind? He’s told me for years he ain’t interested. What if he changed his mind and decides he wants to go to the Lakers? What if he changed his mind? I mean, it would change everything.”
Regardless of James’ interest, the Lakers cannot manufacture appealing players to their roster. A package centered around Kyle Kuzma and other Lakers role players is not going to be enough to entice the Blazers to deal their franchise player. The Lakers would have to part with James’ Klutch Sports partner Davis, which likely becomes the end of the Lillard to L.A. fodder.