Still weeks away from the official NBA off-season, the Damian Lillard Trade Machine is alive and well, with a new trade proposal entering the media sphere on an almost daily basis.
The latest proposal centered around the Portland Trail Blazers franchise star comes from Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, in his confidently titled piece, “Star-for-Star Offseason NBA Trades That Make Too Much Sense.” Buckley’s big idea: trading Lillard for Darius Garland, the young star guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This feels sure to infuriate both fanbases, and that’s fine. That speaks to how talented these two players are and how much their backers value them.
It also might mean this is good value for both sides (again, at least a starting point for trade talks).
On the Blazers side, Buckley writes a trade for Garland would mean the franchise is opting for youth and committing to a rebuild. While a straight swap may not be enough to acquire Lillard, Buckley writes a package with Garland — an All-Star in 2022 — as the centerpiece may just do it. (Ignore the fact the trade would likely overload Portland once again with guard talent if the franchise holds onto Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe.).
As for the Blazers, life after Lillard will be painful regardless of when or how his chapter closes, but bringing back Garland (and maybe more) would help cushion the blow. He looks like the type of talent teams tank to find. The 23-year-old’s past two seasons have delivered per-game averages of 21.6 points and 8.2 assists with a 46.2/39.6/87.5 shooting slash.
Between him, Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe, Portland would have a young nucleus to build around. If the Blazers ace their drafting and developmental work along the way, maybe they’d eventually lift their ceiling higher than they ever could with Lillard.
For Cleveland, Buckley writes going in on Lillard would create a juggernaut backcourt with Donovan Mitchell at shooting guard and instantly boost the Cavs’ title chances.
The Cavs may not have Mitchell much longer, so the time for their championship push is now. And for all the growth in Garland’s game to this point, he’s no Damian Lillard. Very few players are in that class. This season might have been a mess for the Portland Trail Blazers, but he tried making it magical while becoming just the sixth player ever to average 32 points and seven assists.
The formula wouldn’t have to change for Cleveland; it would just be turbo-charged by Lillard’s arrival. Having him and Mitchell in the same backcourt sounds like a cheat code come to life. The Cavs would instantly factor into the championship conversation and maybe drive that discussion if they found the right wing to fill the hole at small forward.
What say you, Rip City? Are you laughing, scoffing or stroking your chin beard in ponderance at this latest trade idea? Is the national media moving the needle closer on these Lillard proposals? Let us know in the comments!