It’s not yet known whether Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will request a trade this summer after a fourth first-round NBA Playoff exit in five seasons.
What we do know is that Portland must do its best to keep Dame happy after firing longtime head coach Terry Stotts and without a championship-caliber supporting cast. Damian Lillard, one of the most-loyal players in the NBA, is said to be frustrated. For good reason.
On the other hand, the Gregg Popovich-led San Antonio Spurs are coming off a second consecutive non-playoff campaign. As the longest-tenured and oldest head coach in the NBA, Pop is not going to want to start anew with a rebuild.
Could Dame to the Spurs make sense? If we pay close attention to the All-NBA performer’s take on playing for Pop in the 2020 Summer Olympics, we can easily see the watercooler heating up in this regard.
“Pop being the coach of the national team played a big role in my decision to commit,” Lillard said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I have a lot of respect for Pop as a coach and as a person. I look forward to playing for him, taking in his basketball knowledge and seeing what our team can do.”
That’s sure to start up some rumors as it relates to Damian Lillard heading to the San Antonio Spurs in a blockbuster summer-time trade. But is it even remotely possible?
How would a Damian Lillard trade to the San Antonio Spurs work?
First off, it’s important to note that San Antonio is expected to have north of $52 million in cap room depending on whether DeMar DeRozan opts out of his contract. Even if he opts in or the Spurs re-sign the All-Star wing, they could provide Portland some salary relief in a trade.
Secondly, the idea of bringing Lillard in would be to team up with DeRozan. San Antonio wouldn’t even consider a blockbuster move of this ilk if it doesn’t have a star player to work with Dame. Those are the two primary backstories when discussing a hypothetical Damian Lillard trade to San Antonio.
As for the nuts and bolts (compensation heading back to Portland), San Antonio has enough assets to make a move of this magnitude. Its front office, led by CEO R. C. Buford, rarely trade first-round picks. This means the Spurs have their full stockpile, including first-round picks in each of the next seven years. This year alone, San Antonio will likely be picking in the top-12 of the lottery. That’s a major chip in a potential trade.
Boasting the likes of youngsters Derrick White, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson also helps matter here. All three are seen as starter-caliber players moving forward and could represent the cornerstones of a rebuild in the Pacific Northwest.
So, this is how a Damian Lillard trade to the San Antonio Spurs might look:
- Spurs get: Damian Lillard
- Blazers get: Derrick White, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl, three first-round picks
Portland would get about $10 million in cap savings for the 2021-22 season. It would also net three stud youngsters and three future first-round picks. As for the Spurs, they’d then team Lillard up with the aforementioned DeRozan and Dejounte Murray.
Let’s get reckless. It’s fun.