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Smith: Damian Lillard Open to Lakers or Knicks Trade If Blazers Don’t Improve

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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith claims Lillard is “open to leaving” without improvement.

NBA: Playoffs-New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard prefers to stay with the Trail Blazers, but would be interested in a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks if Portland doesn’t improve, according to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN. Potential Lillard moves have been the hot topic among all NBA media today. In hour one of his radio show Thursday, Smith delivered what he believes Lillard’s options are.

First, Smith mentions Lillard’s camp being open to the idea of a trade:

Even as the number three team they are clearly not an elite team that’s going to make any noise in the postseason. Portland recognizes this, and as a result, you have people in Damian Lillard’s camp and on his side looking for him to leave. And he is open to leaving, even though he loves being in Portland.

Smith goes on to mention Lillard’s potential destinations, and also how the Blazers could put their star at ease:

And if Damian Lillard is going to leave the comfortable and financially beneficial confines of Portland, it’s only for two places from what I’m being told. He’s only interested in New York or LA. One of the two. New York or LA, and by LA, I mean the Lakers, not the Clippers. That’s what Damian Lillard wants. His preference would be for the Portland Trail Blazers to find somebody, somebody big time to join him and CJ McCollum in Portland. That’s Damian Lillard’s preference. But if they can’t improve the team and if they can’t find anybody, then he’s interested in going one of two places: my sources tell me it’s the Lakers or the Knicks.

A short video of Smith’s radio appearance was also posted by ESPN Los Angeles on Twitter, with some claims about Lillard’s allegiance that would make Portland fans nervous:

Being happy in Portland is no longer a priority for Damian Lillard. Damian Lillard wants to be in a situation where he has a chance to compete.

Smith has long presented himself as “in the know” concerning league happenings. However, he’s not always followed through on those claims. In 2015, ahead of Kevin Durant’s free agency, Smith said the forward would make the Lakers his priority. Yet, Durant later said he never talked to Smith, calling the ESPN personality a liar. Durant, as many know, signed with the Golden State Warriors. Just last week, Smith said LeBron James texted Durant about joining the Lakers. Then Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com cited sources close to James that claimed he never reached out to Durant.

Lillard is under contract with Portland for three more seasons, with a salary ranging between $28 million in 2018-19 and $31.6 million in 2020-21.

Update: Lillard retweeted this tweet about the Blazers Thursday night: