Despite a career season from Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers have such uncertainty moving forward that all of their players may be expendable.
Greg Schwartz of Bleacher Report made mention of the many moving parts that the Blazers will have to deal with starting this offseason, and had this to say in part:
“If the Blazers keep Lillard, then Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe become the best trade assets on the team,” Schwartz said.
“For now, no player should be deemed completely untouchable on this roster. Teams that want Lillard should at least make a call.”
While Schwartz did note that Lillard’s loyalty has been unwavering to the franchise up until this point, the 32-year-old All-Star may want to salvage the rest of his prime on a winner.
Therefore, it would be smart for Portland’s front office to field calls for Lillard. A mutually beneficial move could shake up the roster and create a ripple effect.
Also noted, Simons and Sharpe do possess the best trade value as Blazers star Jerami Grant will become a free agent this summer and could be on the move himself.
Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic has also added a respectable three-point shot to his offensive game as he shot a career-high 36.1 percent from distance (min. 1.0 attempt per game). Nurkic, 28, will also give management a piece that can be flipped for value.
As unfathomable as it may be right now, many teams looking to take a leap of faith and cement themselves as bona fide championship contenders could make a push for Lillard.
The Miami Heat recently upset the No. 1 overall seeded Milwaukee Bucks in their first round playoff series, but have had point guard uncertainty with Kyle Lowry and Gabe Vincent flip-flopping in the starting lineup.
They’ve also yet to figure out what to do with Victor Oladipo and Duncan Robinson — two players who were once premiere talents in their own rights now vying for playing time. Packaging talent along with draft picks for Lillard could be the next shrewd move for Pat Riley and company.
Also, the Los Angeles Lakers pulled off an upset as well in their first round series over the Memphis Grizzlies and have a real shot at unseating the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals.
They have an impressive roster, but with the oft-injured Anthony Davis, having another superstar-caliber scorer in Lillard would not only gift James with the most elite shooting teammate he’s ever had, but would take playmaking pressure off of the 20-year veteran.
As it pertains to Houston, they recently hired Ime Udoka as their next head coach, and rumor has it they will strongly pursue Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown this offseason. Brown will be a restricted free agent this summer and Houston has over $70 million in cap space to well exceed the $30.7 million Brown is set to make in 2023-24 and put pressure on any offer-sheet match that the Celtics would make.
Should Houston win the draft lottery, they could very well opt to bring in Lillard or Brown with that pick, entice the other, and add another piece to their talented young core in efforts to win-now. Crazier things have happened in the NBA.