4 All-Stars Blazers should swing for the fences on in Damian Lillard trade

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (left); Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (left); Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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While some recent reports say the Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat are getting closer to compromising on the price of a Damian Lillard trade, others say the Blazers are “unmotivated to engage” with Miami in talks. Who knows what’s true and what’s not as both organizations continue to posture in public.

What’s clear is that the Heat have yet to offer the Blazers a package general manager Joe Cronin has deemed a fair enough return for an elite NBA point guard.

It seems the main sticking point comes in the form of future draft picks. Right now, Miami can offer two first-round picks, one in 2028 and one in 2030, and three pick swaps. The Heat could free up a third first-rounder, but whether or not they have – or are even willing – to offer that in a trade is still a question mark.

The most attractive part of any return is 23-year-old guard Tyler Herro, but there’s no use for him in Portland, so the plan would be to reroute him to another team for an additional first-round pick, but that seemingly has yet to gain any real traction either.

The Blazers and Heat will continue (or start?) to negotiate, and it’s likely any Lillard trade gets Dame to South Beach. But perhaps it’s time for Cronin to re-think his strategy, or at least expand that strategy, to include other options.

Trail Blazers should explore deals for established All-Stars rather than future draft picks in a Damian Lillard trade

There were numerous pre-draft rumors involving Portland’s No. 3 pick that eventually became Scoot Henderson. Those rumors included trading that selection to Boston for Jaylen Brown, Minnesota for Karl-Anthony Towns, New Orleans for Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram, Toronto for Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby, and a few others.

What if the Blazers decide to revisit some of those players, but rather than flipping a high draft pick to bring them to Portland, trade Dame himself for one of those stars who would be around as Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe grow into potential All-Stars and help turn the Blazers into a contender in the West earlier than expected?

Both Scoot and Sharpe proved during short stints in summer league that their games are more advanced than we perhaps thought; they’re obviously not ready to lead a franchise toward an NBA title, but despite their age – 19 and 20 years old, respectively – they’re certainly not raw.

There are four players who have already received an All-Star berth during their careers, are or would be locked into a long-term deal to stick around in Portland, and are young enough to still be in their primes once Henderson and Sharpe reach the point in their careers when they’re ready to help a team make a legitimate postseason push.

Is it worth turning Dame into a player like that rather than trading him for 75 cents on the dollar?