The uncertainty surrounding All-Star point guard Damian Lillard’s future with the Portland Trail Blazers is reaching new heights — and the 2020-21 NBA season isn’t even completely finished yet.
A trade could be in the making for the 30-year-old, six-time All-Star, as he did not divulge his mindset on whether or not he would ask for a trade when speaking with the media last week. Nor did he offer an overwhelming amount of support for new Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, who was hired for the job despite the resurfacing of sexual assault allegations from 1997.
Like clockwork, the New York Knicks have entered the conversation as a potential suitor for Lillard — the New York Post’s Marc Berman reporting on June 27 that the team is “monitoring” the star’s situation in Portland.
The Knicks are desperate for a franchise point guard, which is something that’s eluded the franchise for the better part of the last 50 years, and Lillard is an obvious candidate to rectify that situation.
Lillard is signed through the 2023-24 season with a rising cap hit from $39 million next year to $45 million in the final year of team control. He also has a $48 million player option for the 2024-25 season, which means any potential trade suitor will have to give up a king’s ransom for the point guard.
With the cap space to take on such a deal, the Knicks also have the components to offer a strong package to the Blazers. Per Berman, the Knicks are “willing” to part with three of their future first-round draft picks and potentially RJ Barrett if it means getting a player of Lillard’s caliber.
The 21-year-old made considerable strides in his sophomore season with the Knicks, averaging 17.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and three assists per game on a team that defied expectations to make its first playoff appearance in eight years. He was seen as one of the centerpieces to build around for the future.
That still may be the case, but the ever-so-alluring option of picking up that superstar talent to hurdle the Knicks into a “win-now” team might be too tempting to pass up this summer if things continue going south in Portland.