It’s been five days since the New York Knicks season concluded, and already, the team is the subject of trade rumors and reports of free agency interests aplenty.
The latest and largest involves six-time All-Star point guard Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Per SportsBetting.ag, the Knicks are now the betting favorites to land the NBA’s latest disgruntled star:
After being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by a Jamal Murray-less Denver Nuggets, the Trail Blazers parted ways with Terry Stotts, the only head coach of Lillard’s nine-year career.
The star guard hasn’t been shy about his frustrations with the team’s progress, or lack thereof, in the playoffs.
It’s lead to the mounting speculation that he could request a trade from Portland, in search of a fresh start.
And if he’s looking to leave the Pacific Northwest, there are few less appealing destinations than New York.
Lillard Hasn’t Requested a Trade, Yet
What’s most important to note in any Damian Lillard to New York conjecture, is that he’s yet to officially request a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers.
And according to Jabari Young of CNBC, he has no plans to, at least in the immediate future:
A person close to Lillard told CNBC that he’s expected to wait to see what the Blazers do this off-season before deciding his future. A rival NBA agent, who faced a similar situation with a star player, said Lillard could first gauge how serious ownership is about winning.
That could start with their search for a new head coach, but there’s still no consensus on how hard that could impact Lillard’s decision-making on any future with the Trail Blazers.
Originally, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported that he had hand-picked Jason Kidd as his top choice, but he changed his tune after the Los Angeles Lakers assistant removed his name from consideration.
But that’s only half the battle, with Portland’s capped-out roster also in need of some dramatic shifting.
This all may seem a tall order for the Portland Trail Blazers front office but at the cost of retaining one of the best players in franchise history, it’s a small price to pay.
Whether or not they’re encouraged enough to see it through remains unclear.
What Does a Knicks Offer for Lillard Look Like?
The second biggest question when discussing the possibility of Damian Lillard headed for the trade market isn’t what the Portland Trail Blazers could get for the 30-year old guard, but instead what they would want for him.
Teams forced into trading their best player don’t always have to ‘blow it up.’ And as much as Lillard could net them years worth of draft compensation, a trade could also yield some competitive pieces, too.
That much could fully determine whether or not the New York Knicks will be players in the superstar sweepstakes.
If the Trail Blazers are looking to transition into a continual playoff window, does an offer including all of Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, and Obi Toppin really move the needle for them?
Even if the Knicks were to include something like three first-round picks and multiple future pick swaps, the lengths Portland would have to go to turn that into contributing roster pieces may disinterest them entirely.
Barring a direct request to be traded to the New York Knicks, or the Portland Trail Blazers opting to blow it up and rebuild, Damian Lillard landing in Madison Square Garden is increasingly unlikely.