Ever since Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard expressed admiration for the Miami Heat as a theoretical trade destination, the NBA universe has been aflame with scenarios to get the superstar to South Beach. Almost every permutation involves the Blazers taking back shooting guard Tyler Herro, a key return for salary purposes and talent alike.
According to Chris Mannix of SI, the Blazers themselves are unimpressed by that proposal, despite Herro’s 20 point per game scoring average. Mannix suggests Brooklyn’s draft picks may be more compelling to the Blazers.
So where will Portland look? While any trade will be a collaborative effort between the team and Lillard, the Blazers will, understandably, want the best possible return. Portland is lukewarm on Tyler Herro, sources told Sports Illustrated. He is entering the first year of a four-year, $130 million contract. Brooklyn, armed with a collection of Suns picks that stretch deep into the decade, can offer the most draft capital. And the Blazers could take a flyer on Ben Simmons, whose contract ($77 million over the next two seasons) isn’t as onerous as it used to be. Several other Eastern Conference contenders, including Boston, New York and Philadelphia, could jump into the mix.
If they don’t like Herro, the Blazers probably won’t like Simmons any better, at least not as the sole return. They’d have to frame that deal as riding out Simmons’ contract—which runs through 2025—and demand draft compensation accordingly...extracting a fee for Lillard and for taking on salary. Then anything Simmons gave would be a bonus. But it’s doubtful Brooklyn would want to part with that much of their hard-earned capital.
Mannix does make a decent point in the penumbra of his argument. Multi-team deals are always possible. Several teams will want Lillard. Many would like Herro. Triangulating those desires opens up extra possibilities that straight-up trades can’t.