Knicks Odds-on Favorite to Land 7-Time All-Star if Available

New York Knicks

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The New York Knicks are the betting favorite to land superstar guard Damian Lillard if the Portland Trail Blazers blow up their current core and hold on to the No. 3 overall pick in June’s NBA Draft to anchor a full rebuild.

The Trail Blazers are at +250 with a 28.6% chance of having Lillard for his 12th season, but the Knicks are right behind at +450 with an 18.2% implied probability of getting the 32-year-old superstar via trade in the offseason, according to The Miami Heat, who beat the Knicks in the playoffs, are in the third spot at +550 and a 15.4% chance of grabbing Lillard this summer.

Lillard created a buzz last week when he tweeted, “If the fans wanna trade me … start the petition and send it in,” as a response to a Trail Blazers’ die-hard fan who was defending him from the section of Portland fan base that want to trade the seven-time All-Star guard.

Portland GM Joe Cronin kept an open mind after the Trail Blazers jumped from No. 5 to No. 3 in the draft lottery.

“We’ll see,” Cronin told reporters after the Draft Lottery in Chicago on May 16. “The market will tell, but the No. 3 [pick] is significant. There are going to be good players available at No. 3 that could be great for us or somebody else, depending on how we approach this draft.”

‘Dame Time’ Is Ticking Fast

Lillard put the Trail Blazers on the clock after they failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season.

“I don’t have much of an appetite for bringing in guys two and three years away from really going after it,” Lillard said during his exit interview. “And this is not a secret. I want a chance to go for [the title]. And if the route is to [rebuild], then that’s not my route. I think we’re all in line with doing what we got to do to put a team together that we can actually go out there and get something done.”

According to John Hollinger of The Athletic, there is a “widespread speculation the Trail Blazers, who currently own the pick, will seek to trade out of the third position rather than select another young player.”

But if the Trail Blazers hold on to the third overall pick, then “Dame Time” is likely over.

Potentially Explosive Pairing But…

Even if Lillard becomes available, there is no indication that the Knicks still have the appetite to pay the premium for the soon-to-be-33-years-old superstar — who will command a starting salary of $45 million next season that escalates to $63 million when he’s 36 years old — after Jalen Brunson emerged as a star.

In his first season with the Knicks, Brunson averaged 24 points and 6.2 assists, both career highs. He further raised his level of play in the playoff as he dropped 27.8 points and 5.6 assists, leading the Knicks in both categories.

Pairing Lillard and Brunson at the backcourt is potentially explosive on offense.

Lillard is coming off a strong season, averaging a career-best 32.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 0.9 steals per game on a 46/37/91 shooting split before Portland shut him down.

But having two 6-foot-2 guards could also be exploited on defense, especially in the playoffs.

Aside from Lillard, the Knicks are also linked to All-Star big men Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns and wings Paul George and O.G. Anunoby.



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