The Portland Trail Blazers have a tough decision to make this summer, though they have already made their intentions fairly clear. While many believe the team should look to rebuild, Portland seems intent on competing with Damian Lillard.
With the third pick and Anfernee Simons available to them as trade bait, the Blazers have a serious chance to pair Lillard with a star. But that could be a mistake.
Is it possible for the Trail Blazers to concoct a championship-caliber team around Lillard this offseason? Maybe. Is it likely? Not at all.
Instead, they should look to trade Lillard and begin a rebuild, as they have some amazing young pieces. Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, and the third pick are enough to create one of the more intriguing young cores in the league.
Lillard has been very vocal about potential trade destinations this summer, adding fuel to the fire of a potential trade. He’s even mentioned some teams he may want to go to.
4 potential Damian Lillard trades no one is talking about
“Miami is the obvious one. Bam is my dog,” Lillard said. “Brooklyn is another obvious one because Mikal Bridges is my dog too. Both have capable rosters.”
The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks were also mentioned as potential destinations, but Lillard turned his head up at the idea of joining the Celtics.
With those four teams cemented as the most likely scenarios (or, in Boston’s case, a team that has simply been mentioned), what other teams could look to get in on the Lillard sweepstakes should he hit the trade market?
Here are four potential Lillard trades that are currently flying under the radar.
Under-the-radar trade destination No. 1: Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic showed a ton of improvement this past season, headlined by the play of NBA Rookie of the Year winner Paolo Banchero. If they feel ready to take a leap, they have a great package to offer the Blazers.
There were rumblings this past season that the Magic were looking to add a point guard, with Fred VanVleet even mentioned as a possibility. Lillard would be a huge step up from that idea.
With Lillard, the Magic would become immediate playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference, and depending on the development of Banchero and Franz Wagner, maybe more.
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers would add two more lottery picks to their pool of assets, bringing their stockpile to the third pick, the sixth pick, the 11th pick, Simons, and Sharpe.
That’s a pretty good core of young pieces to build around.
Plus, Jalen Suggs would also join the mix as a young prospect at the point guard position, as would Markelle Fultz, who is coming off a solid season in Orlando.
Jonathan Isaac would be a project player, as he can’t manage to stay on the court, but he would still be an interesting piece for Portland.
Potential starting lineups
Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson (third pick?), Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, Jerami Grant (if not traded), Jusuf Nurkic
Magic: Damian Lillard, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Wendell Carter Jr.