The results are in, and voters think that the Portland Trail Blazers would get the longer end of the stick by trading 2023 All-NBA Third Team point guard Damian Lillard and their first round pick in this year’s draft for the No. 1 overall selection.
A large 40 percent minority of voters still believe that the Blazers can have a bright future with Lillard as their top dog.
Lillard’s loyalty to the Blazers franchise and the city of Portland has been well documented. However, this past season was a let down, and in life, anything can happen.
Jerami Grant’s free agency decision could undo the positive reaping from the CJ McCollum trade a season ago, leaving Portland with virtually the same nucleus they had before moving the latter, outside of the new acquisitions brought in at the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
The Blazers still have an outside shot at winning the first overall selection as it stands when the Draft Lottery takes place next Tuesday, May 16. However, should they miss out, incumbent No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama is as good a franchise cornerstone to build around as there’s been in this millennium, should he realize his potential.
Notably, Lillard is 32 years old and will turn 33 on July 15. He is fresh off of a career year, but it’s rare to see players play at an All-NBA level past their mid-thirties.
How many more years Lillard has as a top 15 player in the league cannot be asserted. He is under contract into the 2026-27 NBA season, where he will make a staggering $63.2 million.
Getting off of Lillard’s gargantuan contract while sending him to what could likely be the Houston Rockets could be a win-win for both parties, while also allowing Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe to further grow.
Reportedly, Houston will aggressively pursue Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown this summer, and should the Celtics — who are tied 3-3 with the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals — fail to win the championship, pairing Brown with Dame along with the Rocket’s abundance of young talent under coach Ime Udoka could form a championship contender in short order.
Much remains to be seen, but voters see a brighter future with Wembanyama than Lillard.