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Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard has flirted the idea of being traded with the Rip City fanbase, prodding supporters to start a petition to have him dealt.
His loyalty has been steadfast, but nothing is forever. Should Blazers management actively shop Lillard this summer, which player would be the best centerpiece to move him for?
Ben Simmons, Tyler Herro, Pascal Siakam and James Harden are all in interesting situations with their respective franchises.
Pertaining to Simmons, his former two superstar teammates — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — abandoned ship, not believing they could win with him.
To add insult to injury, Simmons lost favor in the rotation, falling out of the starting lineup in Nov. 2022, and again in the last four games he played.
It wasn’t long ago that Simmons was an NBA All-Star regular, All-Defensive honoree and aggrandized “young king” by Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James himself.
Though coming off of a career-worst season, Simmons, 26, can elevate a team off of his playmaking, rebounding and defense alone, though his fouling will have to improve.
Herro was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2022, but wanted a bigger role on the Miami Heat. He joined the Heat’s starting lineup this season and whether a direct culprit or scapegoat, Miami finished considerably worse in the Eastern Conference standings.
That mattered little, as the Heat have steamrolled competition through these playoffs and are a game away from reaching their second NBA Finals in four years.
Nevertheless, moving Lillard for Herro would give Dame a proven championship culture and teammates that can shoot and defend at a level he’s never experienced in his career.
Herro would instantly be handed the keys to the Blazers’ franchise on the offensive end and given his talent, likely put up All-Star numbers while helping the team win in the interim.
Siakam knows what it’s like to win it all in Toronto, but lately, Toronto has regressed. A change of scenery may benefit both players.
Lastly, Harden has not been shy about entertaining greener pastures. Reigning MVP Joel Embiid was cryptic in his response to what it would take for the Philadelphia 76ers to take the next step.
Harden may be the least attractive centerpiece of the bunch due to his age, defense, and expected price tag, but few players in the league can run an offense and command the game the way he can, despite whatever shortcomings he may have, and should Dame and the Blazers see eye-to-eye on a split, should at least be looked at.