3 Actually realistic Blazers trades to give Damian Lillard his shot in Portland

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /
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R.J. Barrett could be a realistic trade target for Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers.
R.J. Barrett, New York Knicks (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

Realistic Blazers trade No. 2

This is a straightforward, 1-for-1 swap that fills needs for both teams.

The New York Knicks could use another perimeter scorer, playmaker, and shooter next to Jalen Brunson. They don’t have anyone like that on the roster. Simons would take some of the scoring and playmaking responsibility off Brunson’s shoulders and would add a different offensive dynamic with Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley.

New York is also expected to re-sign former Blazer Josh Hart, who could fill Barrett’s starting spot at small forward and, realistically, is more of a Tom Thibodeau-type player than RJ, anyway.

The Blazers, on the other hand, can once again subtract a small guard and add a big wing, except this time a much more talented offensive player than DFS or O’Neale.

Barrett hasn’t lived up to his potential as the third overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but he hasn’t been anywhere near a bust, either. He’s been a productive player in New York, but that production would be more appreciated and is more needed in Portland next to Lillard.

Barrett has averaged 18.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists through his first four NBA seasons. Those numbers won’t jump off the page – and he’s not the shot-creator and shot-maker Simons is – but he’s a starting-caliber wing who could thrive next to a gravitational offensive force like Lillard.

Barrett is 6-foot-6 with 6-10 wingspan capable of guarding two through four. He’s not a lockdown defender, but he’s a good defender who would slot in next to Grant in the frontcourt to provide strength and length at a position of need, more so than Simons is needed at the guard spot.

The former Duke standout averaged 24.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists after the All-Star break in the 2021-22 season, the best stretch of his career, showing what he’s capable of. And he’s only 23 years old.

This is a simple need-for-need swap that would make sense for both teams.