3 potential destinations for Damian Lillard that could be a perfect fit


(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

After making the NBA playoffs in each of the past eight seasons, it looks like the Portland Trail Blazers are about to hit the proverbial reset button.

Earlier this season, the team traded star guard CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans, and they also dumped Norman Powell, another talented guard, to the Los Angeles Clippers.

With the Blazers poised to finish with one of the worst records in professional basketball, it seems increasingly inevitable that they will at least consider trading Damian Lillard, their franchise player of the past decade.

He remains one of the best players in the league and he is also arguably the best interpreter of the game’s critical moment.

At 31, he deserves a real chance in an NBA championship ring.

He made it clear that he had a preference as to where he could be treated.

Which teams could suit him?

3. New York Knicks

If Lillard goes back on his request to stay out west, could the New York Knicks give him what he wants?

Just a year ago they were perhaps the biggest upset team, finishing as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, but this season they’ve been a disappointment.

The team has Julius Randle, who has become the best version of himself and a bona fide star, as well as capable actors, some of whom are just beginning to emerge.

New York also has a few players they may want to get rid of contracts.

If the Knicks and Blazers could ever agree on a reasonable trade package (we’re not saying that’s very realistic, or that it’s rumored), Lillard would give the Knicks the artist at the hours of great listening which they have lacked since at least the time of Carmelo Antoine.

Lillard, Randle and a cadre of competent role players, plus a renewed emphasis on defense and team play could invigorate the Knicks and Madison Square Garden, not to mention make next year’s race for the Eastern Conference even more interesting.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

If Lillard is unwavering in his desire to stay on the West Coast, how about reuniting him with Powell and Robert Covington by sending him to the Clippers?

The Clippers have had, when healthy, one of the strongest rosters in the league over the past two years, but they’ve failed to even live up to expectations.

Paul George remains a wildly inconsistent playoff performer, Kawhi Leonard is also somewhat shaky under pressure, and the Clippers lack a legit general closer and on the ground.

Lillard could tick those boxes with flying colors.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

That would probably never happen, but never underestimate LeBron James’ ability to send stars to his team, as was the case with Russell Westbrook last summer.

If the Blazers agreed to some type of Westbrook-Lillard trade (they both make roughly the same amount of money), Westbrook could put butts in the seats next season at the Moda Center, and at the end of the season, his $47 million contract would come off the books, giving Portland plenty of cap relief.

Meanwhile, Lillard could take a lot of the pressure off an aging James while relieving and helping him with his ball handling duties, as well as a closer elite he can trust when the chips are down. .




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