Several NBA trade rumors have linked Damian Lillard with a move away from the Portland Trail Blazers in recent weeks. Lillard remains undecided about his future but has demanded that the Blazers build a better roster for the upcoming season. In the meantime, we continue to get intel on teams that are pursuing the six-time All-Star.
There's no guarantee that the Portland Trail Blazers will wound up trading Damian Lillard. But interested parties are bound to perform their due diligence. As per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, even though a Lillard trade is unlikely this offseason, five teams are pursuing him aggressively. O'Connor wrote:
"Few team executives expect a Dame deal to happen this offseason. But multiple front-office sources say the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have recently been the most aggressive suitors."
Damian Lillard has led the Portland Trail Blazers to eight straight playoffs on the back of his shooting and underrated playmaking ability. Lillard has earned most things that an NBA player dreams of besides a championship, and at 31, his window is starting to close.
NBA Trade Rumors: What's next for Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers?
Depending on Damian Lillard's talks with new head coach Chauncey Billups and GM Neil Olshey, it will soon be clear whether Lillard will stay or push for a move.
If it's the latter, Damian Lillard would want to go to a team that gives him a chance of winning the championship right now. That would put the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat in the drivers' seat, ruling out the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and potentially even the New York Knicks.
Giving up multiple picks in a Damian Lillard trade shouldn't be a problem for all five suitors barring Houston, but they have the No.2 overall pick in this year's draft. When it comes to additional assets, conflictingly enough, the Kings, Rockets and Knicks could arguably offer more value to the Portland Trail Blazers for Lillard.
Each of these three teams will be in a position to send multiple young players with years left on their respective rookie contracts. The same will likely not be the case for the Heat, with both Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn hitting restricted free agency this summer.
The Philadelphia 76ers could trump each team by leveraging Ben Simmons, but it'll be interesting to see whether the Portland Trail Blazers decide to remain competitive or begin a rebuild. If it's the latter, the 76ers could be out of the picture too.
There are several directions in which this saga could go right now but don't expect Damian Lillard to be dealt swiftly by the Portland Trail Blazers.