With All-Stars James Harden and Ben Simmons finally having their wishes granted to be dealt from their respective teams at the Trade Deadline, eyes are open to see who will be the next superstar to ask out.
There are a number of possibilities as to who this could be, and despite Damian Lillard’s several public reassurances that he wishes to stay with the Portland Trail Blazers, many NBA executives are waiting for him to be one of the next superstar dominoes to fall.
Sports Illustrated’s Howard Beck wrote about how teams are plotting to acquire Lillard if he were to ever ask the Blazers for a trade.
The teams that have a star are feverishly doing everything to keep them happy. The rest are plotting to poach them. Around the league, team executives are already bracing (and/or plotting) for the next disenchanted star to ask out, with speculation focused on Zion Williamson in New Orleans, Damian Lillard in Portland and Donovan Mitchell in Utah.
Beck also mentions Zion Williamson and Donovan Mitchell, who also find themselves in smaller markets, as players who teams believe to wish for a trade in the near future.
In the piece, Beck also writes about how superstars asking to be traded are negative for the league as a whole, referencing NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s comments during an All-Star Weekend press conference.
“It’s no secret that I’ve expressed my unhappiness with public trade demands,” commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday night, during his annual All-Star weekend press conference. But he said there were no clear solutions to slow the trend.
“I don’t want to pretend standing here that I have some secret idea that I know can fix that problem,” Silver said.
Another problem the league has shown can be seen with national media and executives in automatically assuming every star in a small market wants out when things are not perfect.
Some national media members were pushing Giannis Antetokounmpo trade ideas for years before the Milwaukee Bucks won last year’s title, and the league has now turned its target onto Lillard.
These ideas and rumors that Lillard should leave Portland likely won’t go away until he either finally leaves or the Blazers begin to win.
Which will come first? That’s up to the Blazers and Lillard.