The Portland Trail Blazers haven't even been eliminated from the playoffs for a week yet and the rumor mill surrounding Damian Lillard's future in Rip City is already kicking into full gear. The organization appears to be in shambles. Terry Stotts is out, and expectedly President of Basketball Operations Neil Oshley blamed the teams shortcomings on his former coach. Stotts is hardly to blame for Portland's shortcomings. In fact Stotts along with Dame should be getting credit for consistently getting an average, injury riddled roster to the playoffs every season. A poorly constructed roster with injury prone players and a lack of support for one of the games best players is at the center of this disfunction. If anyone should be out in Portland it's Mr. Oshley. Reports are saying that Dame is reaching the end of his rope with the organization. The latest reports about Jason Kidd doesn't help Portland's case either.
Jason Kidd came out and said he has no interest in going to Portland and would rather coach Boston or another team. There's two reasons for this, either he believes Dame won't be around for long, or he simply doesn't believe this roster can go anywhere. With -$10M in cap space going into this offseason there is little room to make improvements. Any changes outside of acquiring a second star to run with Dame will yield very little results anyway. It's time for Portland to blow it up, or continue to suffer the worst hell in the sports world: mediocrity. A 30 year old Damian Lillard is not a building block for the team's future, and likely will have no interest in being a part of any rebuild anyway. So where should he go? The answer is simple: The city of brotherly love.
I've been a Sixers fan all my life so you might think I'm just being biased here, but a trade here makes too much sense for both teams. Yes the Sixers are in the midst of a playoff run and coming off a tough game one loss to the Atlanta Hawks. We may be the #1 seed in the East, but I'm still not sold on this team. The Sixers need a true top dog. As long as Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid is the #1 guy on this roster we will never win a championship. Ben can't shoot. You can't win with a star that can't shoot. Ask the Bucks how Giannis's shooting has worked out for them in the playoffs in previous seasons. I'd go as far as to say even if Ben is your #2 you will never get a ring. Ben Simmons should be the Dennis Rodman of a championship team. The third wheel. His focus should be on rebounding and defense, two things he's strongest at. Scoring pressure should rarely be on his shoulders. Embiid on the other hand could be the #1, but his injury woes will forever prevent him from being one. The Sixers have needed 2 things for years. A true #1 and a point guard to run the offense. Enter Damian Lillard. Portland on the other hand will need pieces to contribute to the rebuild. A package of Ben Simmons, young players like Thybulle or Milton, and draft compensation should be sufficient. Damian's contract will be an issue in any deal. Luckily Ben's contract matches up nicely with Dame's, so there's little issue there. Teams like Boston, the Knicks, and the Lakers will be very strong contenders in the potential Lillard sweepstakes, but I believe Philly is his best option.
Here is where the odds on Dame's next destination stand if he is traded according to clutchpoints.com:
With the rumors out there, though, of course that means there are odds going around about Dame’s next team if he’s dealt. BetOnline.ag has some, and it’s not much of a surprise that the New York Knicks are the favorite when it comes to a Lillard trade. The Knicks are the Knicks and they’re an up-and-coming team with a good amount of assets to get a deal done. Following the Knicks are the Los Angeles Clippers (+275), Miami Heat (+300), Los Angeles Lakers (+350), Philadelphia 76ers (+400) and Boston Celtics (+450). The Clippers, Heat and Lakers are a bit short on draft capital to make a move, so it would be tough for those teams to pull off a deal unless we’re looking at star swaps. That seems unlikely, but you never know in the NBA.
It's essentially a tie for those 6 teams in the odds market right now. The Clippers and Heat are favored a bit too much in my opinion. They simply don't have the flexibility needed to pull off a deal of this magnitude, but I would rarely bet against Jerry West or Pat Riley. Dame is one of my favorite players in this league, if not my favorite. Playing on the West Coast in small market Portland has kept him hidden in the shadows for much of his career and cost him many accolades that he should've won. Getting him to a big market like Philly would be awesome to see. He will finally get the attention he deserves and the respect that he has earned.