Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard has put together an All-NBA-worthy season, yet the team is more likely to have a top-5 draft pick than a playoff berth this year. As it stands, the Blazers need a strong influx of talent to balance their roster and create a team that can truly contend for a championship.
This offseason presents a unique opportunity for the team to make a big move, and many potential trades could help do just that.
Some of these trade scenarios are more likely than others, and the market may force Portland General Manager Joe Cronin to make smaller moves instead of a big splash.
In the NBA’s most recent superstar trade, the Brooklyn Nets received two promising young players plus four unprotected future first-round picks and a pick swap for Kevin Durant and T.J. Warren.
Using the what the Nets got for Kevin Durant from the Phoenix Suns, we can speculate on the cost of a superstar.
In a perfect world, though, these are four trades that the Blazers could explore to acquire a second star player and create a truly formidable roster.
Note that all of these trades would require working out the protection on the first-round pick Portland owes to the Chicago Bulls (lottery-protected through 2028) so the Blazers can trade future firsts.
If Portland can talk Chicago into taking the 2023 first-round pick it acquired from the New York Knicks (perhaps with some kind of sweetener attached, if needed) in exchange for removing those protections, the Blazers could offer future first-round picks beginning in 2024 – however, Portland would have to hold on its own first-rounder in 2023 in order to do so.
Trade No. 1: Acquire Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is both younger and more durable than Durant at this point in his career. Embiid is at the height of his powers, and the Sixers would want a massive haul for him.
The Trail Blazers are the fourth-worst rebounding team in the NBA this season. They’re also 27th in defensive rating. Their lack of size is apparent when watching them face off against teams that feature a big, athletic frontcourt.
This problem gets remedied in one trade if the Blazers can pull off the miracle that would be a deal for 76ers superstar Embiid.
Admittedly, the Blazers trading for Embiid is the ultimate dream scenario. But, if Embiid wants out of Philadelphia, the Blazers would need to take the big swing to try and acquire him.
If the Sixers flame out again this postseason and James Harden opts out of his contract to leave Philly, it’s possible that Embiid forces his way out as well. If he does, we know that he’s a fan of Lillard.
Embiid is the current odds-on favorite to win the NBA MVP Award this season, and his averages of 33.3 points and 10.2 rebounds – as well as his 54.5 percent shooting and 108 defensive rating – are worth trading it all to give Portland the best chance at competing while Dame is still in his prime.
If Embiid becomes available, it will cost everything; but when the opportunity to acquire an MVP-caliber player comes up, you take that chance 10 times out of 10.
Potential lineup following this trade: Damian Lillard, Matisse Thybulle, Jerami Grant, Jusuf Nurkic, Joel Embiid