New York Knicks rumors will continue to pop up regarding some of the NBA’s best players. That now includes Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
As was reported this past weekend, the six-time NBA All-Star is unhappy about the direction of the organization after a fourth first-round exit in the playoffs in five years. This has recently been magnified by the process that led to Portland hiring Chauncey Billups as its next head coach.
Should Lillard request a trade, the New York Knicks will be among those most talked about. Below, we look at three ideal scenarios to send the future Hall of Fame guard to Broadway.
Damian Lillard trade to the New York Knicks for draft pick package
- Knicks get: Damian Lillard
- Blazers get: R.J. Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, three first-round picks
Barrett and Quickley could very well act as building blocks if the Blazers are forced to rebuild by trading away Lillard. In fact, Barrett took a major step forward as a sophomore — averaging 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 40% shooting from distance. He’s still only 21 years old and boasts unlimited potential. Meanwhile, Quickley showed out as a rookie and could be the long-term replacement for C.J. McCollum at the two-guard spot in the Pacific Northwest.
With that said, this is all about embattled Blazers general manager Neil Olshey acquiring draft pick assets. That would come in the form of first-round selections in each of the next three years, including the No. 19 pick in 2021. Remember, Portland isn’t even slated to make a pick in the annual event after the trade for Robert Covington.
Financially, this trade works well for New York. Doing the math, this team would still have north of $34 million in cap room — enough to sign a max-contract player during free agency. The Knicks could also let that spill over to the 2022 offseason when as many as 10 future Hall of Famers are set to hit the open market.
New York Knicks trade young core for Damian Lillard
- Knicks get: Damian Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic
- Blazers get: R.J. Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin, two first-round picks
In lieu of moving a third first-round selection to the Blazers in this hypothetical Damian Lillard trade scenario, New York sends 2020 first-rounder Obi Toppin to the Pacific Northwest. Power forward is a position of need for the Blazers, and Toppin still boasts untapped potential after earning College Basketball Player of the Year honors in his final season with Dayton. As noted above, Barrett, Quickley and Robinson would be centerpieces in a Blazers rebuild.
For the Knicks, this move disables their ability to sign another max-contract player in 2021. However, Nurkic becomes a plug-and-play center and is entering the final year of his contract should Portland pick up his option. That could give New York flexibility next summer. Meanwhile, the veteran center just recently noted that he will request to move on from the Blazers should they trade Lillard.
New York Knicks acquire Damian Lillard in a three-team swap
- Knicks get: Damian Lillard
- Blazers get: R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris, Mo Bamba, fifth pick (from Orlando), 21st pick (from New York), future first rounder
- Magic get: Kevin Knox, R.J. Barrett, 19th pick (from New York)
Well, isn’t this fun? Orlando boasts the fifth and eighth picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. There’s a good chance that that the rebuilding team will look to use both selections. Even then, the idea of acquiring a proven young wing in R.J. Barrett with the No. 5 pick while acquiring the 21st selection might make more sense. Teaming Barrett up with young guard Cole Anthony would give the Magic a start.
As for Portland, this is all about draft picks. Acquiring the fifth pick in a loaded 2021 NBA Draft would be seen as a win if the team is forced to go into a full-scale rebuild. A first-rounder last year, Hampton offers tremendous upside out on the wing. Meanwhile, Harris and Bamba might offer trade value in separate deals.
For the Knicks, this move would almost enable them to add a max-contract free agent while still being able to retain both Quickley and Robinson. It would be an obvious win for front office head Leon Rose.