After an ignominious end to the season, Portland Trail Blazers’ star point guard Damian Lillard is already generating interest around the league. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, that includes the New York Knicks. Lillard has a connection with the Knicks through assistant Johnnie Bryant, who grew up in Oakland.
The key to the Knicks’ potential Lillard bid is their assistant coach, Johnnie Bryant, who is close to the star point guard and is one of his mentors from Oakland. Bryant is a former Jazz assistant who joined Thibodeau’s staff in 2020.
“That’s my big brother,’’ Lillard said in 2017 of Bryant. “I remember barely being in the seventh grade, getting ready for an AAU tournament, and Johnnie was in college at Utah, and they would come back and scrimmage us on outside courts with no net.’’
According to Berman, the Knicks have a lot to deal to Portland should they wish to.
The Knicks also have a trove of draft picks – five over the next three drafts – and cap space to make a trade easier. Their young trade chips include Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, though after the Atlanta series exposed them at center the Knicks may be less eager to move Robinson.
With the Knicks desperate for a starting point guard and a superstar after their five-game ouster to Atlanta, Lillard fits both categories. The Knicks are likely willing to add three first-round picks to a deal.
What happens next is anyone’s guess — apparently “six or seven” teams have inquired about Lillard already.