As we wade into the fantasy land of NBA-trade rumors, there’s one big name that would absolutely change the fortunes of any franchise in the league, and that’s Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
But as of now, it’s a true fantasy. Though recent reports from Yahoo Sports suggest it’s possible that Lillard wants out of Portland, there’s no concrete reason to believe that the Blazers would actually send him walking. And besides, Lillard has four more years left on his max contract, signed with the only NBA team he’s ever known.
But this fantastic game is all about “what if.” What if Lillard really does want a change of scenery and Portland is willing to deal? Could Lillard, an Oakland native, end up in the Bay Area as a member of the Golden State Warriors? Does Warriors general manager Bob Myers have the assets to maneuver such a deal?
According to one national publication, the answer is yes. Though Myers would need to send a whole lot of merchandise Portland’s way in a scenario proposed by The Athletic’s John Hollinger.
Golden State has enough interesting pieces to actually make this plausible. They have a matching contract in Andrew Wiggins, plus the kind of juicy young assets (last year’s No. 2 pick James Wiseman, this year’s No. 7 pick and No. 14 pick and at least two of their own future firsts that can be part of any deal) that are tough for any of the teams listed above to contend with.
Imagine this dream scenario for Golden State: Lillard and Nurkic to the Warriors for Wiggins, Wiseman, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, picks 7 and 14 in 2021 and the Warriors’ first-round picks in 2022 and 2026.John Hollinger/The Athletic
Holy smokes. That’s nearly an entire NBA rotation worth of assets heading Portland’s way in this make-believe scenario.
But the possibility of Lillard paired with superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is enticing enough to at least think about sending all of those assets to Portland. With Blazers center Jusuf Nurkić included in this deal, that’s one heck of a potential starting five by the Bay.
Of course, there are plenty of reason’s for Myers to steer clear of this possible scenario. For starters, Lillard and Curry have similar styles of greatness, and they’re each undersized, too. And with Thompson having to move from shooing guard to small forward, he could lose some effectiveness, especially coming off two catastrophic injuries.
And we’re talking about four of Golden State’s first round picks here, too. With Golden State’s salary stretched thin, the franchise may need those selections (especially this year’s) to simply fill out its 15-man roster. Plus, despite the urgency to make the most of their championship window with Curry and crew, this would amount to mortgaging the team’s future for its present.
While many Warriors observers are calling for just that, this potential deal goes to far, in my opinion. Guard Jordan Poole and center James Wiseman have already shown they can help lead the team into the future and also help win now, especially Poole (and Wiseman, too, once coach Steve Kerr figures out how to use him, which he may have finally done).
So how “plausible” is this scenario? Not very. It is, however, more plausible than other potential Lillard-trade scenarios for other teams.
But as I said, this is all fantasy for now. But one thing (of many) that we know for sure about the Warriors’ front office is that when a player of Lillard’s caliber becomes available, they explore all options. If this trade-rumor game ever becomes reality, you can bet Myers and team owner Joe Lacob will attempt to make a deal if they believe it will help the club win another NBA title.
(Photo courtesy Frenchieinportland)