Coming off a surprise appearance in the NBA Playoffs, the New York Knicks are going to do everything possible this summer to improve their overperforming roster under Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau.
Out west in the Pacific Northwest, the Portland Trail Blazers are entering an era of change following their fourth first-round playoff exit in five years. That includes looking for a new head coach to replace the recently-fired Terry Stotts.
Boy, how things have change for the two organizations over the past calendar year. If we were to pay attention to Vegas odds, that could include star Blazers guard Damian Lillard heading to the New York Knicks in a blockbuster trade.
By now, it’s well known that one of the game’s most-loyal players might finally look to depart Portland after nine tremendous seasons with the fledgling organization. A lot of that will be dependent on what embattled general manager Neil Olshey decides in a search for a new head coach and his plans to upgrade a lacking supporting cast behind Dame.
Now, according to this note from Marc Berman of the NY Post, New York is willing to offer up three first-round picks in a package for Lillard.
“The Knicks have five first-round picks over the next three years. In the upcoming draft, they have three picks in the top 31 — including two first-rounders at 19 and 21,” Berman reported. “The Knicks are likely willing to include three first-round picks in a Lillard deal and have the cap space to make a transaction smoother mathematically.”
What would it take for the New York Knicks to land Damian Lillard?
Obviously, three first-round picks would be a starting-off point if the Blazers came to the unlikely conclusion that they had to move off Lillard. That would only come via a request on the part of the high-scoring guard.
As Berman notes in his report, New York does have the ability to offer Portland cap relief in a potential Damian Lillard trade. The Knicks are likely going to be roughly $56 million under the cap once free agency starts, meaning that salaries would not have to match in this hypothetical blockbuster.
With that said, the Blazers would demand a lot more than three first-round picks and cap relief to unload a future first ballot Hall of Famer who is still in the prime of his career.
Last season alone, the 30-year-old Lillard averaged 28.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists on 39% shooting from distance. He’s a difference-maker. He’s a top-level star on a championship contending team.
It’s in this that youngsters Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley would likely be involved in trade conversations. Heck, young wing R.J. Barrett would be the subject of rumors heading from the New York Knicks to the west coast.
Regardless, it’s not even known whether the Blazers would even entertain offers for Lillard. That would only come if the star point guard requested a trade. Right now, it’s pure conjecture.