Grade the trade: Blazers take flier on ex-NBA superstar in Lillard proposal

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Damian Lillard gets traded from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Miami Heat in this proposal.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (right) (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

Blazers trade Damian Lillard to Heat, get Ben Simmons from Brooklyn Nets

This Damian Lillard trade proposal was raised by Bill Simmons of The Ringer, with three assumptions in play:

  1. The Nets have interest in pairing Herro with their other young players like Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Nic Claxton.
  2. The Heat will eventually end up with Lillard regardless.
  3. Ben Simmons is worth a flier for the Blazers.

The first two assumptions are correct, or at least reportedly correct in the case of the Brooklyn-Herro connection.

Whether or not Portland has any interest in bringing Ben Simmons aboard is uncertain, but putting that discussion to the side for now, adding him into this trade to match salaries likely makes Portland’s return more attractive.

Nurkic’s contract gets sent away with Lillard and Portland gets a load of draft picks, most notably the trio that Brooklyn throws in to acquire Herro – 2027 and 2029 first-round picks from the Phoenix Suns, who are unlikely to have Kevin Durant playing at a superstar level at that point, and a 2029 first from the Dallas Mavericks, who are already approaching keep-Luka-Doncic-happy-at-all-costs mode.

Adding Ben Simmons’ salary to the deal rather than a combination of Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Herro, Spencer Dinwiddie, etc. puts an entirely new twist on the trade, however.

Only one of those players has made an All-NBA team during their career. Only one has been named to multiple all-defense teams.

If Ben Simmons can return to the player he was his first few seasons in the league, or even close to it, this trade would become a blockbuster win for Portland.