The chances of Damian Lillard being traded this offseason appear remote, but Vegas likes the Los Angeles Lakers’ odds of being a prime landing spot if the Portland Trail Blazers opt to deal the superstar. According to BetOnline.Ag, the Lakers are fourth in the odds to trade for Lillard at +350.
The Lakers are just narrowly behind the Knicks (+250), Clippers (+275) and Heat (+300) as the top teams with a chance to acquire Lilliard, if traded. This has some fans picturing Lillard in a Lakers jersey such as the image below.
These rumors are sure to gain steam throughout the offseason given Lillard’s frustration with another first-round playoff exit, but the only scenario where the Blazers are likely to even consider dealing their franchise player is if a trade is demanded. All indications are the Blazers plan to involve Lillard in the hiring of their next head coaching after firing Terry Stotts.
Any Potential Lakers Deal for Dame Would Assuredly Involve A.D.
Qualifiers aside, the offseason is the time for speculation, so let’s explore what would need to occur for Dame Time to happen at Staples Center. First, Lillard has to hit the nuclear button and demand a trade this offseason for this to be even a remote possibility. Next season will mark the beginning of Lillard’s four-year, $176.2 million extension he signed in 2019.
Lillard is set to make $39.3 million next season in Portland and very few teams have the cap space that would allow them to absorb his salary outright which will escalate all the way up to $48.7 million by the 2024-25 season, per Spotrac. A team like the Knicks could trade away young players on rookie deals along with a plethora of draft picks and have the cap space to take on Lillard’s contract.
The Lakers are in the opposite situation with no cap space and limited draft capital as a result of the Anthony Davis trade. Any deal for Lillard, hypothetical or otherwise, involving the Lakers starts and ends with Davis for cap reasons as well as having the Blazers land something comparable in return for the guard.
The idea of a Lakers big three pairing Lillard and Davis with LeBron James is not happening. Los Angeles will have at least nine free agents this offseason making Davis the one appealing asset the Lakers could dangle in front of Portland. Davis battled injuries throughout the season but is nearly three years younger than Lillard.
LeBron: ‘Give Me Damian Lillard. I’ll Show You How Appreciated He’ll Be
We know that the Lakers are not making a blockbuster move like this without James signing off on the deal. Given James’ close relationship with Davis, it would be interesting to see what the Lakers star would choose. James is also chasing Michael Jordan’s six championships and has a limited window left in his career to meet this goal. James has been vocal in his admiration for Lillard throughout his career, and the Blazers star even has a cameo in the upcoming Space Jam movie.
“Give me Damian Lillard. I’ll show you how appreciated he’ll be,” James told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes in 2018.
There are many dominoes that would need to fall for Lillard to be wearing a Lakers uniform next season. While the chances are slim, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes the Lakers will be in the mix if the Blazers begin listening to offers.
“Just had somebody reach out to me, one of the players. Apparently, a lot of people have been eliminated over the last couple of days as you all know and as a result, especially when Damian Lillard got eliminated last night, several calls have come their way,” Smith explained on ESPN. “You got a lot of teams, about six or seven different teams, who believe they can get their hands on him [Lillard]. They think they’ve got a shot. One of them includes the Knicks, who is scheduled to have about $75 million in cap space along with some picks, but also the Clippers, the Miami Heat and who knows what the Lakers may try to do. Stay tuned, the Damian Lillard news could ultimately be percolating a little bit sooner than later, much to my surprise.”