There are two paths the Portland Trail Blazers could take this offseason. They could mortgage the future and trade for a superstar to pair with Damian Lillard to make an NBA title run, or they could deal Lillard for future assets and begin to rebuild.
If Portland General Manager Joe Cronin decides to go down the first path, he can offer some combination of Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, the Blazers’ 2023 lottery pick, and, potentially, other future firsts.
If Cronin decides to see what’s behind door No. 2, those same assets become the building blocks of Portland’s future.
The trade rumors will swirl all offseason (buckle up), but the first one of seemingly any significance has landed. Fresh off being swept out of the first round of the NBA playoffs by the Philadelphia 76ers, the Brooklyn Nets could be in pursuit of Lillard.
Brooklyn just dealt Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at the 2023 trade deadline, so the Nets do have some assets to offer. But would they be enticing enough to tempt the Blazers into trading their franchise centerpiece?
What assets do the Nets have to offer Portland for Damian Lillard?
Despite being 32 years old and owed a significant sum of money, Lillard will still fetch the Blazers a haul. He’s fresh off the best offensive season of his career, and he did it with a weak supporting cast.
Brooklyn just left the superstar roulette table, but it sounds like there’s a chance they’re willing to sit back down already, per Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype. One NBA executive reportedly told Scotto, “Dame would be the leader they (Nets) need. I’m just not sure they have the pieces to get him, but they should try.”
If the Nets do try, what pieces do they have – contracts, players, and draft picks – that could entice Portland?
Lillard is owed $45.6 million next season and is under contract through at least 2025-26 with a $63.2 million player option in 26-27. So aside from players who would be attractive to the Blazers in a rebuild, Portland would have to take back salary in any deal.
As far as what would solely be considered “salary filler,” Brooklyn can offer:
- Ben Simmons: 2 years – $37.8 million in 2023-24, $40.3 million in 24-25
- Joe Harris: 1 year, $19.9 million
- Spencer Dinwiddie: 1 year, $20.3 million
- Patty Mills: 1 year, $6.8 million