Whether he’s actually going anywhere remains to be seen, but rumors of Damian Lillard’s departure from the Portland Trail Blazers are swirling with the velocity of a Ben Simmons solo fast break. The Philadelphia 76ers‘ embattled floor general has figured prominently into the chatter, too.
In the wake of a report that Dame is on the verge of requesting a trade from the Blazers, Sixers fans suddenly have visions of a Lillard-Simmons swap dancing in their heads. And why wouldn’t they — Philly’s floor general was already on the trading block and Lillard could take the Sixers to the next level.
Nevertheless, the Lillard noise could be much ado about nothing. The six-time All-Star has been loyal (perhaps to a fault) to the Blazers for a long time now. And the Portland GM Neil Olshey is likely not thinking about trading him.
That said, the report of his discontent is out there. Moreover, Olshey and new Blazers coach Chauncey Billups are meeting with Lillard after Team USA practice in Las Vegas on Friday, per Frank Isola. The timing of said meeting could just be a coincidence or the notion of an incoming trade request may have the team spooked.
In any case, if the Blazers do make the surprising move to deal Lillard, some recent betting odds seemingly have the Sixers making a serious play for his services.
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Sixers Among the Favorites to Land Lillard
Shortly after rumors of a Lillard trade request began to spread, sportsbooks were quick to put out odds on his next NBA home. One such group — PointsBet Sportsbook — put the Sixers right near the top of the clubs that could acquire him.
Here are the PointsBets odds, via Twitter, on Lillard’s next team (if he’s traded):
- New York Knicks +200
- Philadelphia 76ers +250
- Miami Heat +300
- Golden State Warriors +400
- Los Angeles Lakers +500
- L.A. Clippers +600
- Boston Celtics +900
- Toronto Raptors +1000
- Oklahoma City Thunder +1000
The Knicks are slim favorites over the Sixers to get Lillard here. As it happens, hoops scribe and host Quinton Mayo reported that New York could be the destination, too. Regardless, Philly can arguably offer Portland the best return for Lillard with a package headlined by Simmons.
Trading the face of your franchise and a top-15 player in the Association is never a good thing. But doing so and getting a superstar in his mid-20s who is locked into a long-term contract (i.e. Simmons) would be a good way to ease the pain of doing so.
With all due respect to the Knicks and their All-Star, Julius Randle, the Sixers are the only team with whom that possibility really exists.
Trade Request Report Is Being Refuted
For his part, one of Lillard’s teammates, big man Jusuf Nurkic, doesn’t believe that Dame is looking to force his way out. In reference to the True Hoop story that set off the trade request chatter, Nurkic tweeted, “Y’all really about to believe a guy with a name Henry abboott [sic].”
Elsewhere, The Oregonian’s Aaron J. Fentress reported that Lillard has no plans to request a trade, per an NBA source.
Lillard averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game last season. He was also a 39.1% three-point shooter.
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