NBA Rumor: Damian Lillard Trade?

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Time is on Philadelphia’s side. The Sixers are not required to trade Simmons, although the overwhelming expectation around the league is that he will be moved before the 2021-22 season tips. That could occur in August; team executives are anxiously awaiting Damian Lillard’s return from the Tokyo Olympics, and a potential trade request that could occur if the All-Star guard doesn’t endorse Portland’s offseason roster adjustments. “I think Daryl is just waiting for the Dame situation to explode,” said one team official.

Just over a week ago, Henry Abbott of True Hoop wrote, “A source close to [Damian] Lillard says that in the days to come, he plans to request a trade.” A public trade demand has yet to arrive, but executives around the league are closely monitoring the Portland Trail Blazers as the NBA edges closer to the draft and free agency. “It sounds like he is not getting moved anytime soon,” one Eastern Conference source told Bleacher Report. “From what I’ve heard, [Lillard is] going to give it a chance and then decide closer to the [trade] deadline.”

Warriors unlikely to trade for Ben Simmons

After multiple reports suggested Lillard could ask out of Portland, he clarified last week that such rumblings were inaccurate. Simmons, currently the only All-Star known to be shopped by his team, is also unlikely to land with the Warriors. The 76ers are asking for a massive haul that includes an All-Star-level player. Per a league source, Golden State wouldn’t be willing to give up what it would take to get Simmons.

Marc Stein: Golden State has indeed signaled a willingness to trade the 7th and 14th overall picks, league sources say, but the Warriors are said to be trying to construct a deal that brings back “a star.” Star translates to Washington’s Bradley Beal or Portland’s Damian Lillard — neither of whom figures to be available for a trade package in which, irrespective of how many draft assets are attached, Andrew Wiggins is the standout veteran.

Enes Kanter doesn't think Damian Lillard is going to leave

As far as Enes Kanter is concerned, all the Damian Lillard speculations are hogwash. In an appearance on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” the veteran big man banked on Lillard’s loyalty as the sole reason for Blazers fans to stop worrying. “I played with Dame two years ago, I played with Dame this year, like I’ve said in many interviews, he’s the most loyal player I have ever seen in the league … I don’t think he’s going to leave. He even said it himself, he ‘woke up to all these trades rumors, and it’s not true,’ and I don’t think it’s true.”

Front-office executives say that if the Blazers eventually move Lillard, they can expect a return rivaling or surpassing what the Nets gave up for James Harden: multiple young players, plus three first-round picks and four first-round pick swaps. Harden is a former MVP, but he had only two guaranteed seasons left on his contract at the time of the trade. Portland could do even better because Lillard has four seasons remaining on his contract worth a grand total of $176 million. The long-term security in Lillard’s contract could lead to more interest from teams and more return in a trade.

Damian Lillard: 'I'm not getting any younger'

Chris Haynes: Having known you for years and your position, why is this current juncture such a pivotal moment for you? Damian Lillard: There are few reasons: One being I’m not getting any younger. Our environment has always been great. We’re not losing a lot, but we were eliminated by a shorthanded Denver team that I felt we should have beat. I just walked away from that really disappointed. I was like, ‘Man, this just isn’t going to work.’ We’re not winning the championship, but we’ve got a successful organization. We’re not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don’t end up with a championship.

Damian Lillard: So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been. Just like I hold myself accountable for a bad performance or hold myself accountable to make sure that I work my ass off when I’m training, I must be accountable for saying what needs to be said even if it’s not popular. And that just comes with age. When I was younger, I felt like maybe I’ll be out of place, but I feel like I’ve earned the right to say we must do better. We must do better if we want to win on that level. (Lillard will address a report about his future with the team following Team USA practice on Friday.)

Damian Lillard: I think that’s the stage we’re at as a team where we all, not just me, not just my teammates, not just our new coaching staff, the front office, everybody in this organization must look in the mirror because we’ve constantly come up short. We have to look in the mirror and say I have to be better because whatever it is we’re doing is not working and it’s not giving us the shot to compete on the level that we want to compete on.

Yet even if Morey, deep down, wishes he had a do-over on his January or March dealings, he has shown little inclination to rush into shedding Simmons, which is undoubtedly a nod to one of the most complex situations he has ever faced. All teams covet the biggest stars, but Morey is especially obsessive about it. He will surely tune out the naysayers who suggest Simmons can no longer be the centerpiece for the acquisition of a Bradley Beal-type superstar. Portland’s CJ McCollum has been mentioned often as a potential Sixers target in a Simmons deal; rest assured that Morey longs for Damian Lillard if he is targeting any Trail Blazer.

Rapper/businessman Ice Cube issued a challenge to Damian Lillard. Cube, real name O’Shea Jackson, is a big Los Angeles Lakers fan. He appeared on Stephen A. Smith’s show on Friday and was asked what advice he would give Lillard regarding the Portland guard’s future. “If you want a championship, he should come join the Lakers,” Cube told Smith. “If you want to just score a lot of points and be the man, stay in Portland. But come win a championship. You deserve it. He’s given a lot to that city. So give some of that love to the L.A. Lakers, man.”

Numerous times in the past Damian Lillard has affirmed he has no intention of wanting to be traded from the Portland Trail Blazers. Dealing with a fresh round of speculation in the wake of a coaching change, Lillard said Thursday he’ll keep his thoughts on the direction of the team between himself and the franchise. “Anything that I have to say, I’m going to say directly to [Blazers general manager] Neil [Olshey] and I’m going to address it directly with my team,” Lillard said after the third day of Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. “There’s really nothing else I have to say about it.”

“The other is Damian Lillard. It’s still very much up in the air, Lillard’s future in Portland. If in the coming weeks the Blazers decide that they have to trade Damian Lillard, I think Boston would be in a pretty good position to make a strong offer that would have to include Jaylen Brown. So, you don’t just move him to shake things up, but if one of those two players becomes available I think you have to look long and hard about trading Jaylen Brown.”

Knicks willing to trade RJ Barrett in exchange for a star guard

The source told the Daily News that the Knicks are interested in packaging rising star RJ Barrett in a deal for a star guard, like Portland’s Damian Lillard or Washington’s Bradley Beal. If both the Trail Blazers and Wizards are uninterested in a deal, the source says the Knicks are also monitoring Cleveland’s Collin Sexton, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Charlotte’s Terry Rozier as younger guards the franchise can fold into its plans for the future.

Blazers to have leverage if Damian Lillard demands trade?

Boston’s pursuit of Lillard will likely come to down their inclusion of Brown, which, understandably so, is an extremely hard decision to make. With Brown’s inclusion, the Celtics might not need to add too much more beyond an additional prospect and a first-round pick or two. Still, Brown is just 24-years-old and is still improving. He may never be as great as Lillard but the longevity of Brown and Tatum could outweigh the smaller window of contention Lillard and Tatum would have. There is so much the Celtics can still do to build a contender around Brown and Tatum over the next few years.

If the Warriors offer the kitchen sink for Lillard, it’s going to be hard for the Blazers to decline. In all likelihood, there will be a lot of pressure league-wide for Portland not totrade Lillard to Golden State. It’s already impossible to provide adequate coverage on Stephen Curry and Lillard alone, who need just a slither of space to get what is considered a good shot for them. The two of them together, along with a healthy Klay Thompson as a tertiary lethal shooter, and Draymond Green facilitating and setting screens, feels like an unstoppable offense.

Enes Kanter on Damian Lillard: 'He wants to win it all in Portland'

Kanter doesn’t think Lillard wants out despite indications of his displeasure with the Blazers not getting out of the first round this season. The Knicks are monitoring Lillard’s situation with hopes he’ll land on the trade block. “You know one thing he doesn’t care about big markets, small markets,’’ Kanter said Monday on SiriusXM Radio. “He wants to win it all in Portland. I’m saying this every time I talk about him, but he’s definitely one of the most loyal and maybe the most loyal player in the league. People always talk about how good of a player he is, but he’s actually one of the best teammates that I’ve played with.”

“When you’re like one of the top five players in the league, of course you got to be frustrated because you want to go out there and win it all,’’ Kanter said. “And when that is not happening it can be very frustrating, but for him, he wants to do it all in Portland. He doesn’t care about the big market, big-city base, and that he wants to just bring a championship to Portland and the state of Oregon. “I think the one thing that maybe will be frustrating is if he couldn’t do it for Portland because this guy gives it all every night. Every night he’s hurt, he’s tired, he’s going out there and trying to do the best he can to just win with every game and give us 100 percent. So after the playoffs, I was really frustrated and sad because we couldn’t do it for Dame.”

Knicks willing to include three first-round picks in a Lillard deal?

Despite Kanter’s remarks, the Knicks, desperate for a point guard, believe they have assets and cap space to make a trade for a star such as Lillard. In addition, Knicks assistant coach Johnnie Bryant is a mentor of Lillard’s from their native Oakland, Calif. The Knicks have five first-round picks over the next three years. In the upcoming draft, they have three picks in the top 31 — including two first-rounders at 19 and 21. The Knicks are likely willing to include three first-round picks in a Lillard deal and have the cap space to make a transaction smoother mathematically.

Damian Lillard offers 'no comment' about long-term plans with Blazers

So on Monday, I reached out to Lillard via text message and asked him a series of questions: Where his head was at with the Blazers? Where he stood with Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ top executive? And where his mind was long-term in relation to Portland? I also asked: Was he still whole-heartedly on board here, or was he starting to waver? Lillard’s two-sentence response was polite, and he finished by writing: “I have no comments about anything.”

I’ve observed Lillard intently for nine years. Interviewed him thousands of times. I’ve studied his background. Talked to many in his family and inner circle. And I’ve found he is the definition of integrity. He is selfless. He cares about people. He doesn’t do things halfway; when he puts his mind to something, there’s no deterring him. And when you hear him talk about his dreams of winning a title in Portland, not just read his quotes, but actually hear him say it — man, it’s a powerful thing, because I believe it’s coming from a powerful place — his heart.

The key to the Knicks’ potential Lillard bid is their assistant coach, Johnnie Bryant, who is close to the star point guard and is one of his mentors from Oakland. Bryant is a former Jazz assistant who joined Thibodeau’s staff in 2020. “That’s my big brother,’’ Lillard said in 2017 of Bryant. “I remember barely being in the seventh grade, getting ready for an AAU tournament, and Johnnie was in college at Utah, and they would come back and scrimmage us on outside courts with no net.’’
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