Who would Damian Lillard have been traded to the New York Knicks for?

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Damian Lillard recently stated that he believed he was nearly traded to the New York Knicks. But what would a trade of that kind have even looked like?

For once in our lives, the Portland Trail Blazers received the longer end of the What If stick. The idea of seeing Damian Lillard wearing anything other than a Blazers uniform feels almost sacrilege. Time and time again, he’s made it clear that winning in Oregon means more here than anywhere else.

But in his interview with Vanity Fair earlier today, we learned through the rumor vault that it hasn’t necessarily always been this easy.

In an interview with Lisa Robinson of Vanity Fair, Lillard discussed everything from police brutality to potential Playoff matchups. A few paragraphs in, the two had this exchange:

"Robinson: When the season shut down, the Trail Blazers were in ninth place; if you move up to eighth, you could play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. You want that?Lillard: Of course. I think we could beat them.Robinson: As a Knicks fan, I wish you would come here. Madison Square Garden is so great.Lillard: I thought I was headed there a few years ago; I was hearing trade rumors. The Garden is my favorite place to play."

After the hyperventilating ended, the first thought that came to mind: who exactly would the Knicks have had to offer? Unless we’re talking a Paul George-type trade consisting of a boatload of picks, when was the last time the Knicks had a superstar with enough return on investment for Lillard, and a matching contract to match?

On Jul. 5, 2018, Stephen A. Smith “broke” potential news of his sources telling him that it would either come down to the Knicks or Lakers. Blazers Edge went in-depth and transcribed the following quote from Smith during an episode of ESPN First Take:

"“And if Damian Lillard is going to leave the comfortable and financially beneficial confines of Portland, it’s only for two places from what I’m being told. He’s only interested in New York or LA. One of the two. New York or LA, and by LA, I mean the Lakers, not the Clippers. That’s what Damian Lillard wants.His preference would be for the Portland Trail Blazers to find somebody, somebody big time to join him and CJ McCollum in Portland. That’s Damian Lillard’s preference. But if they can’t improve the team and if they can’t find anybody, then he’s interested in going one of two places: my sources tell me it’s the Lakers or the Knicks.”"

That deserves some deeper thought; even after being swept in the first round by the New Orleans Pelicans, Lillard is said to have been willing to sacrifice his happiness for a chance to compete, according to this video from Smith.

If that’s the case, that means Damian Lillard likely gets dealt for some package that includes Kristaps Porzingis. And given what else the Knicks offered in that trade that sent him to the Dallas Mavericks come six months after that Smith video, perhaps the Blazers also find a way to get Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee or Trey Burke in that deal, too.

Next. 3 Blazers with the most to prove at NBA's Orlando event. dark

The idea of a Blazers squad anchored by a trio of CJ McCollum, Porzingis and Jusuf Nurkic is fun, but certainly not as fun as actual reality. Thankfully though, this thought won’t go beyond our imagination. Regardless of how in-fact those rumors and sources were in the summer of 2018, the Blazers can finally celebrate their coming on top in a hypothetical.