Could it soon be “Dame Time” in Philly?
While the Philadelphia 76ers continue to fight with the possibilities of trading star point guard Ben Simmons, the Portland Trail Blazers all of a sudden may have a problem with their six-time all-star point guard as well. It was reported Sunday that Damian Lillard could be on his way to requesting a trade out of Portland in the wake of the team’s controversial hiring of Chauncey Billups as their next head coach.
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The criticism following Billups’ hiring stems from a 1997 incident in which a woman alleged that he and former teammate Ron Mercer raped her. “Criminal charges were never filed, but police reports stated that a rape kit examination of the victim showed injuries consistent with sexual assault,” an article from USA Today published Monday said.
Some fans unhappy with the Billups hiring have pointed to Lillard as a player to blame for the decision, but the 2013 Rookie of the Year has been adamant in defending himself.
In addition to the Blazers’ personnel move, Haynes also pointed to the lack of championship contention in Portland as a reason for Lillard to possibly want out. In Dame’s nine seasons with the Blazers since being drafted in 2012, the team has now made the postseason eight consecutive times, but lost in the first round five times, the Conference Semifinals twice and the Conference Finals once.
After Haynes’ report Sunday, fans of all teams took to Twitter to post their reaction to Dame’s possible availability for a trade to their squad.
During an appearance on The Athletic‘s NBA Show on Monday, lead columnist Marcus Thompson made his plea for Lillard to join forces with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers this off-season.
‘If Anybody Can Fill the Shoes of [Allen Iverson] … It’s Dame Lillard’
During a lengthy discussion, Thompson laid out a host of reasons why Dame should head east.
I think, at some point, he has got to the space in his mind where he doesn’t see himself as disloyal for leaving, where it is not the weak move in his mind. He’s gonna have to deal with some tweets and some comments. He’s got some stuff on wax that he’s gonna have to address. But I think this is a bit of growth and maturity.
While a straight up move of Simmons for Lillard would work financially, Portland would have to be out of their mind to consider a simple swap of the two players. While Simmons certainly isn’t as bad as he played for much of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks, he’s still not on the level of Dame.
I say, Dame, go on and go to Philly. Go play with Joel Embiid. Quit playing. Win a championship and do it in front of Allen Iverson, If anybody can fill the shoes of AI, culturally and on the court, in basketball, it’s Dame Lillard. Philly that’s what I’m calling.
There would undoubtedly need to be a host of players or draft picks involved to make a blockbuster of this magnitude happen, and for some, it may seem like more of a pipe dream. Maybe the Sixers will look back into Lillard’s longtime teammate, CJ McCollum.
Lillard Addition Could Create Best Inside-Outside Combo in the NBA
If the Sixers were able to pull off a monster deal centered around Simmons and Lillard, it would automatically lift Philly up a tier in the NBA landscape. Even with losing somebody as good as Simmons, plus whoever else moves to Portland, a duo of Embiid and Lillard would give the 76ers arguably the best inside-outside combo in the NBA.
The combo would give Philly two of the top-seven finishers in the 2021 MVP race, as Embiid came in second and Lillard placed seventh. Both Embiid and Lillard can do everything offensively, and with a couple of other solid pieces on the roster already, the Sixers may want to go all in and call Dame Time.