After championship expectations for most of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers head into the offseason without a trophy or their dignity. They were completely outclassed by a young Phoenix Suns team and not even LeBron James could save them. Obviously, Anthony Davis getting injured played a big role in why they lost but it’s also clear that the roster needs major work.
Offseason additions Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol and Wes Matthews were inconsistent in the playoffs and couldn’t step up when the Lakers needed them. There’s been talk ever since the team traded for Davis about them adding a third star. They’ve come close a couple of times. Kawhi Leonard considered joining the team shortly after the Davis trade and Los Angeles almost pulled off a trade for Kyle Lowry during the season.
Obviously, those transactions never came to fruition and now the Lakers have some tough decisions ahead of them. If they go all out on acquiring a third superstar, it’s not going to be easy. Damian Lillard would be the ideal addition for the team to make. He’s one of the best shooters in the NBA and would take a ton of pressure off of LeBron. The Portland Trail Blazers got bounced in the first round of the playoffs for the fifth time in seven years. Though he’s been very loyal, Lillard could hit his limit.
He’s become a huge fan favorite for NBA fans and many would like to see him win a championship before he retires. Former player Kendrick Perkins believes the Lakers would be a “great fit” for him.
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Lillard Drops Cryptic Message
Lillard has been so loyal to Portland despite never coming close to an NBA championship. The problem facing the team is that Portland isn’t a big enough market to attract superstar talent in free agency. There’s only so much Lillard can do by himself and he’s certainly aware of that. After the round one loss to the Denver Nuggets, the All-Star guard posted a picture to Instagram with a cryptic message.
“‘How long should I stay dedicated? How long til opportunity meet preparation’ -Nipsey Hussle.”
Based on that caption, it sounds like Lillard is beginning to question if his dedication to Portland is a fool’s errand. He’s truly one of the best players playing today and will be in the Hall of Fame after he retires. However, the way things are going, he’ll never win a championship as long as he remains with the Trail Blazers.
Can Lakers Even Trade for Lillard?
If Lillard becomes available in a trade, the Lakers will do what they can to get him. However, that will be next to impossible. The guard hasn’t even started the four-year contract extension that the Blazers gave him in 2019 that runs through 2024-2025 season. The deal will pay him an average of about $44.1 million a season. With LeBron and Davis already locked in on max deals, the Lakers will have a very difficult time making that money work.
Also, they have almost nothing to offer the Blazers in a trade. Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker are set to be free agents, and so is most of the team’s roster. Kyle Kuzma is the only somewhat appealing tradeable asset they have and even his value is way down. If Lillard and the Blazers agree to part ways, they are going to want a king’s ransom. There are plenty of other teams around the league that would be more equipped to make that trade. The only hope the Lakers have is that Lillard says he only wants to play in Los Angeles with LeBron. In that scenario, the Lakers would have the leverage and could figure out how to make a deal work.