The 2023 NBA Draft was this past Thursday. There were quite a few deals that went down, the week leading up to and on draft night. Those included the blockbuster deal of Washington Wizards PF Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics. One name thrown around a lot leading up to draft night was Portland Trail Blazers PG Damian Lillard. As well as the no. 3 overall pick that Portland held in the draft.
Portland ended up keeping their no. 3 overall pick and Lillard. They selected G Scoot Henderson from the G-League Ignite. With that selection, they have a crowded, and young backcourt (4 Guards under 25 years old). So there is still speculation, that Dame is, and wants to be, on his way elsewhere this Summer. With a burning desire to win a ring, I don’t blame him.
Below, I will lay out a few realistic deals that could give Dame Dolla a much better chance to get that ring around his finger.
The main team that Lillard has been tied to is Miami. There were rumors that Portland was loading up an offer to Miami to bring PF/C Bam Adebayo to Portland to help Dame out. But that never came to be. I don’t see Miami wanting to give up Adebayo, after his stellar performance through the playoffs this past season.
So if anything, it’ll work the other way around. With Dame heading to South Beach and helping Jimmy “Himmy” Butler and the Heat try to make another run at the title. The Heat were runner-ups this past season, which should be enticing to the 32-year old Point Guard.
Here’s what I think the Trade could look like:
Portland Receives: MIA 2024, 2026 1st round picks, 2029 second round pick, F Duncan Robinson, G Kyle Lowry.
Miami Receives: G Damian Lillard, F Trendon Watford, POR 2026 and 2028 2nd round picks.
Miami gets their guy in Lillard, along with Watford to help match the money up. They give up a few 1st round picks, but if this deal does what they need it to do, they won’t exactly need them anyway.
For Portland, this gives them a veteran leader in the locker room with Lowry. While also bringing in some defensive and shooting help with Robinson. Setting themselves up for the future with the picks. Giving them hope for success in the next 3-5 years.
The awe of big city like Los Angeles (#2 market size according to HoopSocial.com) is appealing to most players. Especially ones in smaller markets, like Lillard in Portland (Bottom 10 market size according to HoopSocial.com).
The possibility of a Big 3 in LA with Dame, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard is a basketball fan’s dream. If they all stay healthy (mainly Kawhi and PG), it could be dangerous for opponents.
The trade could look like this:
Portland Receives: G Eric Gordon, F Nicolas Batum, F Marcus Morris, LAC 2027 1st round pick, and LAC 2029 2nd round pick.
Clippers Receive: G Damian Lillard, F Nassir Little.
Yes, the idea of getting 3 guys past their prime for your star player isn’t all that appealing, probably. But in reality Morris(34 yrs old at start of season), Batum(34 yrs old) and Gordon (34 yrs old) are barely two years older than Dame(32). They are just at a later stage in their career, performance wise. This would give them veteran presence in the locker room, and help the young core start the rebuild with the right mentors.
In LA, we would have a new big 3, a younger team and a better chance at a title. As mentioned earlier, if the team stays healthy, they’ve got as good a shot as any with the addition of Lillard. Not to mention, Little is a solid, young player to have come off the bench.
The Celtics just made the trade for Porzingis, sending away a guy in Marcus Smart who, with Derrick White, was the closest thing to a true Point Guard they had. Meaning, they should/could be in the market for a real Point Guard/facilitator. They are also one of the few teams that can match the money that Dame is owed, at least for next season.
The only thing that could make this unrealistic, is the fact that Dame has said he prefers Brooklyn or Miami over Boston. But maybe with the addition of Porzingis, he’d be more inclined.
Portland Receives: C Al Horford, G Malcolm Brogdon, G Payton Pritchard and BOS 2025 1st round pick
Boston Receives: G Damian Lillard, and both POR 2028 2nd round picks.
Portland gets immediate guard help from Brogdon(if healthy), and Pritchard. Along with yet another veteran presence in Horford, to help Nurkic in the paint. The 2025 1st round pick will help them along with the rebuild/retooling.
Boston gets to boast a “Big 4” with Lillard, Brown, Tatum and Porzingis. While stockpiling more second round picks. And taking the ball handling/facilitating load off of Tatum and Brown.
Lastly, the Brooklyn Nets. One of Dame’s aforementioned top choices. While Harden, Durant and Irving aren’t there anymore. The Nets still have some more-than-solid pieces hanging around. Mikal Bridges is an underrated player, just getting into his prime. Nic Claxton is a force down low. They also have marksmen from beyond the arc in Joe Harris and Yuta Watanabe.
They ended the season 45-37 as the 6th seed in the East. So not a bottom-of-the-barrel team by any means. If they were, Dame probably wouldn’t want to join them.
Portland Receives: G Spencer Dinwiddie, F Ben Simmons, BKN 2026 and 2028 1st round picks.
Brooklyn Receives: G Damian Lillard and POR 2029 2nd round pick.
Portland gets a facilitator and more-than-reliable shooter in Dinwiddie. Simmons can grow and develop more with the young core, if he stays healthy. Healthy seems to be a theme between all these deals, weirdly enough. Their future is safe with the two 1st round picks (hopefully).
Brooklyn gets the type of point guard they need, in Lillard. Along with a second round pick just to lessen the blow of losing two 1st rounders.
If you ask me, the most realistic/most possible trade that I have put before you in this article is hard choice. But my gut says Miami. Mainly because while Lillard doesn’t have a no-trade clause, the Blazers front office will still take his preference into consideration. And Miami is apparently his top choice.
If Portland can get close to the return I mocked up, then they would probably take the deal if offered.
Time will tell if Dame Dolla finds a new home or rides the wave of a rebuild.