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A Not Completely Horrible Nets Trade Package for Damian Lillard

Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report suggests Dame may be worth lots of picks.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

With the Portland Trail Blazers heading for NBA Lottery Land and All-Star guard Damian Lillard making bi-weekly appearances on national airwaves for one reason or another, trade speculation is flying thick across the league. Every time Lillard’s face appears, another analyst or talk show host proposes a trade to get Lillard help in Portland or, more often, to trade Lillard to a different destination.

Most of the proposed deals are too ridiculous to be considered seriously, but in an article about bold deals with potential this summer, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report proposes a swap that isn’t wholly out of line, with options that might even be enticing.

Hughes’ basic thesis is to unite Lillard and forward Mikal Bridges in Brooklyn, playing for the Nets. He suggests that the New Yorkers send a haul of picks and a young center in return.

The Trade: Brooklyn Nets acquire Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers for Nic Claxton, Royce O’Neale, Spencer Dinwiddie, 2025 first-round pick (via Phoenix Suns), 2027 first-round pick (via Philadelphia 76ers), 2028 first-round pick (via Phoenix Suns), 2029 first-round pick (via Dallas Mavericks)

Hughes goes on to explain...

Reports indicate the Nets at least have their antennae up on Dame...

...If the Blazers finally rebuild, they could do a lot worse than getting one of the league’s best young bigs in Claxton, plus a pick haul that allows them to bet against the distant futures of three teams—Phoenix, Dallas and Philadelphia—with aging, potentially disgruntled and/or injury-hit stars.

Dinwiddie and O’Neale are starters on expiring deals the Blazers could flip for more draft equity, a key for a franchise that hasn’t attracted free agents and must build through the lottery and trades.

The Nets should consider offering another pick or Dorian Finney-Smith instead of Claxton, whose defensive mobility and shot-blocking make him an ideal Lillard complement—the kind of difference-making center he’s never really had in Portland.

Ben Simmons is another candidate to move (more on that later), but if the Nets used him as the main matching salary, their pick outlay would get prohibitively larger. The 2016 No. 1 selection may be at a point where teams would want assets attached to take on his salary.

Claxton averaged 12.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game over 76 appearances for the Nets this season. He shot 70.5% from the field on 7.7 attempts in 29.9 minutes per game. The 6’11 center is 24 years old.

Here are the protections on the picks mentioned in the trade suggestion:

  • 2025 from Phoenix—Unprotected
  • 2027 from Philadelphia—Protected 1-8 in 2027 and 2028, becomes a second-rounder after
  • 2028 from Phoenix—Not a pick, but the right to swap picks. (Note that Phoenix also owes Brooklyn their 2027 first-round pick, unprotected.)
  • 2029 from Dallas—Unprotected

So what do you think? Would a minimum of four first-rounders and Claxton get the deal done if you were GM? Share why, or why not, in the comment section below.