The Portland Trail Blazers‘ recent woes on the court and lack of a promising outlook for the future have superstar Damian Lillard making headlines as a potential trade candidate this summer.
Considering that the Philadelphia 76ers may well be in the market for a new point guard, here are three trade scenarios centered around Lillard and Ben Simmons that’d benefit all parties involved.
Damian Lillard for Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey and two 1st-round picks
This Damian Lillard trade scenario is tame compared to the other two on this list.
Imagine Lillard running pick-and-rolls with Joel Embiid, or the big man clearing out a path for Lillard to crash the paint and either finish at the rim. Embiid can also set screens and give Lillard serious daylight from beyond the arc.
The Sixers also have plenty of shooters to help Lillard out in Seth Curry, Shake Milton, George Hill and Furkan Korkmaz among others, depending on who stays in free agency.
Meanwhile, Portland picking up Simmons would be a huge win. Hanging onto CJ McCollum would be a fantastic outcome for the Blazers, and Simmons’ versatility on defense would do wonders for a Blazers team that ranked 29th in defensive rating last season.
A Lillard-for-Simmons swap with Tyrese Maxey and a couple picks kicked in fits the “ideal” narrative because it’s simple, straightforward and involves only two teams. That won’t be the case the rest of the way here. Buckle up!
Blazers and Indiana Pacers shake up rosters in wild Damian Lillard trade
- Pacers get: Ben Simmons, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic
- Blazers get: Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Shake Milton, Myles Turner, one Pacers first-round pick, two 76ers first-round picks
- 76ers get: Damian Lillard
So what if the Blazers really shake things up? The pairing of Lillard and McCollum hasn’t produced anything substantial, and dynamic as they are together on offense, they leave much to be desired on defense as a duo.
The Indiana Pacers are transitioning to a new coach in Rick Carlisle, and it’ll mark his second stint with the franchise. It’s conceivable that Indiana could be in the market for a blockbuster trade to overhaul its roster during this period.
If Portland wants to improve on defense and still not fall off too much on offense, this scenario is perfect. Malcolm Brogdon is a skilled lead guard with great shooting and facilitating ability. He’s a willing defender, too, and the likes of Caris LeVert and Shake Milton pack explosive scoring punches, too.
Solid as Jusuf Nurkic is on defense, Myles Turner is an absolutely elite rim protector who averaged 3.4 blocks per game in 2020-21. The Blazers would get an upgrade there, not to mention multiple draft assets to build out the rest of the roster.
As for Simmons going to the Pacers, the most compelling element would be his playing alongside another uniquely versatile, 6-foot-11 passer in Domantas Sabonis. Building around Simmons, Sabonis and McCollum would give Indiana a vastly improved long-term outlook with much greater upside than its current core has.
Boston Celtics join the fun in 3-team Damian Lillard trade for CJ McCollum
- Celtics get: CJ McCollum
- Blazers get: Ben Simmons, George Hill, Marcus Smart, Tyrese Maxey, one 76ers first-round pick, two Celtics first-round picks
- 76ers get: Damian Lillard and Tristan Thompson
Instead of trying to make everything click with a squad that simply didn’t last season, the Boston Celtics should try something new. They have the means to land McCollum while also facilitating a Lillard trade to Philadelphia.
Boston can give up multiple future assets with the intention of McCollum becoming what Kemba Walker couldn’t be. That is, an offensive juggernaut of a combo guard to catalyze the offense around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Not only do the Sixers get Lillard. They add insurance behind the oft-injured Joel Embiid with Tristan Thompson in the frontcourt. Thompson is on an expiring contract, so they aren’t married to him if he doesn’t work out. Chances are, though, he’d thrive under Doc Rivers’ tutelage as a huge spark off the bench.
So, look at what Portland gets here.
Marcus Smart is arguably the best perimeter defender in all of basketball, and Simmons is perhaps the most versatile. Tyrese Maxey’s defense came on strong during the Sixers’ playoff run, and he has a very high ceiling. George Hill is also known as a defensive specialist who hits at a high clip from 3-point range.
You could argue that the Blazers give up too much offense here. Bear in mind, Hill is a free agent next summer, and Smart is a viable sign-and-trade candidate in 2022, or a valuable piece to flip at the trade deadline.
It’s hard to think of many trades that benefit all parties involved. Losing a player like Damian Lillard is never fun. However, if Portland is going to deal him away,