Longtime Lakers Target, 6-Time All-Star Planning to Request Trade: Report

damian lillard

Getty Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.

Over the years, Damian Lillard has become one of the most loyal players in the NBA. Outside of one trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2019, the Portland Trail Blazers haven’t been very good in the playoffs. For a while, it seemed impossible that Lillard would consider requesting a trade. That’s not the case anymore.

According to Henry Abbott of TrueHoop, Lillard’s time in Portland could be coming to an end.

“Now a source close to Lillard says that in the days to come, he plans to request a trade,” Abbott wrote Friday morning.

This news shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise considering Lillard has been dropping hints recently. Between cryptic social media posts and rumors of discontent reported by Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the writing has been on the wall about Lillard’s discontent.

As one general manager told Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney, the Blazers were set to stand pat on Lillard, unless he forced his way out of Portland. “Until it happens, until he goes in there and says, ‘Get me out of here,’ there is no way they are trading him,” the GM said.

It was just hard to imagine him pulling the trigger due to his loyalty to the team. There’s still a long process that needs to be played out but Lillard has likely played his last game with the Trail Blazers.

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Lakers Should Be Keeping Close Eye on Situation

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Though it doesn’t sound like Lillard has officially requested anything yet, it’s apparently going to happen soon. As of right now, any team that has an interest in the six-time All-Star needs to be putting together trade packages right now. Every team in the NBA should be interested.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been talked about as a possible destination for Lillard for years. He’s got a good relationship with LeBron James and is a fan of the city. He’d be an excellent fit with the team. They need an offensive specialist who can score a lot of points. Adding Lillard to a team that has LeBron and Anthony Davis could be the strongest lineup in the entire league.

The Brooklyn Nets’ season ended in disappointment, but if they can figure out how to stay healthy, they could have a James Harden-Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving dynasty on their hands. The only thing that would be able to stop them is another superteam. Perhaps that team will reside in Los Angeles.

How Lakers Can Make Trade Happen?

The Lakers, though, aren’t in the best position to trade for Lillard. They don’t have many draft picks due to the previous trade for Davis — they owe their first-rounders in 2022 and 2024 or 2025 (the Pelicans can pick which one) to New Orleans, so they can’t trade a first rounder until 2026 at the earliest because of league rules.

They would also have a very difficult time matching Lillard’s massive contract in a trade. Lillard signed a four-year, $196 million extension in 2019, which kicks in next season. Los Angeles will need a few things to happen.

First of all, Lillard would have to specifically mention the Lakers as a team he’d like to be traded to. Considering he’s been such a good soldier for Portland, it’s hard to imagine they send him to a less than ideal situation. Secondly, the Lakers would need Dennis Schroder to be willing to go to the Trail Blazers on a sign-and-trade.

A package centered around Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Schroder could make the money work for Los Angeles. From Portland’s side of things, it wouldn’t be the best haul for Lillard, not with teams like Miami and Philadelphia poised to offer much more in terms of talent and young players.

That’s why it’s important that the guard specifically wants to go to the Lakers. If Lillard is willing to go to a wide number of teams that can outbid the Lakers, it’s hard to imagine Los Angeles can make it happen.

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