For years, Damian Lillard has been the subject of possible trade speculation. It wasn’t because of anything he did. He’s always remained loyal to the Portland Trail Blazers. However, the team’s perpetual early exits in the playoffs every year has led to many urging him to leave Portland.
This could be the first offseason that it’s actually realistic. The Trail Blazers lost to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs this year and fired head coach Terry Stotts. Lillard hasn’t hidden the fact that he’s starting to grow frustrated. For the first time in his career, it’s a real possibility that he forces his way out of Portland.
The Los Angeles Lakers are a team to keep an eye on if he wants a trade. He’s got a good relationship with LeBron James and has stated in the past that he’d want to play with the Lakers if the Trail Blazers didn’t want him. On Monday night, things got even more interesting when Lillard posted a picture of him at the Lakers’ Staple’s Center with a caption that said “‘Who should I love? And how often?’ …Everybody Always”.
The game Lillard attended was for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA so it may just be a coincidence that he posted a picture at Staple’s Center. However, he was seen being friendly with LeBron at that same game so perhaps there’s more to it.
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Lillard Would Be Perfect Fit With Lakers
If Lillard does request a trade, he’ll be the most sought-after player in the NBA until he is dealt. At 30-years-old, he should still have several more years being in his prime and is one of the best scorers in the league. He also brings strong leadership and might be the best clutch player around.
In the Lakers’ case, he’s exactly what they need. LeBron is going to be 37-years-old next season and Anthony Davis isn’t durable. Lillard hardly ever misses games. If Los Angeles targets a third star, they need a durable guy like him. He’d also fix their shooting issues. Lillard is a career 37.5% 3-point shooter and shot 39.1% last season. A Lakers team featuring Lillard, LeBron and Davis would be unstoppable and one of the greatest collections of talent in NBA history.
Lillard Could Still Give Portland 1 More Chance
While Lillard is obviously frustrated with his team, he doesn’t have too much leverage in this situation. He has a four-year contract extension that kicks in next season. He doesn’t come off as the type of player who will throw a fit or sit-out games in order to force a trade.
He’s the best player the Trail Blazers have had since Clyde Drexler was with the team until 1995. Portland isn’t a market that draws superstar talent. If they trade Lillard, it’s hard to imagine they get another player of his caliber anytime soon. The All-Star guard is certainly starting to make the team sweat but they have a new head coach in Chauncey Billups right now. In the end, it’s most likely that he gives the team one more shot to convince him to stay. If the Trail Blazers falter again next season, Lillard could finally force his way out.