The Portland Trail Blazers are 5-4 without since Damian Lillard went out on December 31, but trading their superstar remains a bad idea
With half the league already interested in trading for the Blazers’ best player, it’s not surprising to see all kinds of ridiculous trade proposals pop up.
The team is on its hottest run of the season, thanks to stellar play from Anfernee Simons and the reawakening of Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington, along with the abrupt emergence of Nassir Little – and more recently Ben McLemore.
All this is happening while Lillard recovers from abdominal surgery, so I can hear the cries rumbling in from comment sections everywhere: “Trade him now! They don’t miss him any!”
To which would be inclined to spew forth a list of words that are not welcome on a family website such as Rip City Project, so I’ll bite my typing fingers for a moment and go with “fiddlesticks and folderol.”
Five games do not a complete sample size make, and I welcome any Blazers fan who thinks the team better off in either the short or long term without Lillard to kindly take a winter dip in the Willamette River (currently right around 43 degrees Fahrenheit).
Lillard may be one of the few players in the league who does not have his value substantially diminished by a season-ending injury. He could command multiple rotation players plus draft picks either before or after his surgery, so it’s certainly tempting to entertain what could be from such a deal – especially with Simons playing like a young Lillard and an unavoidable glut of score-first guards on the roster.
But this last week or so is just a blip, and the threes will stop raining down like Multnomah Falls eventually. Once that happens, Nurkic and Covington will revert to their disinterested selves and whatever hopes may have been generated recently will fade into lottery dreams.
But the Blazers’ best chance at keeping that lottery visit a brief one rests on the Lillard’s back. Now that his front is fixed, we’ll see how far he can carry them.