As the NBA world awaits any potential news on a potential Damian Lillard trade, the Portland Trail Blazers have remained quiet and patient. The trade buzz and rumors swirling around Lillard from months ago have died down and even the increasingly popular topic of how a possible trade to the Miami Heat could look has been stagnant as of late.
And according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, it’s due to the potential of one big “what if” that’s a fairly realistic and reasonable outcome — should Lillard be with the Blazers for this much longer.
Among the reasons Portland has not made a move with Lillard—and why I think it’s possible, even likely, that Lillard is on the Blazers roster when training camps open in a few weeks—is because Joe Cronin and Co. believe a market will emerge. And they may be right. What will the 76ers’ priorities be if or when they move James Harden? What if the Timberwolves suddenly put Karl-Anthony Towns on the table? Competition might be the nudge Miami needs to beef up its offer.
It’s an interesting concept and the two teams specifically mentioned in the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves make a lot of sense. Potentially pairing Lillard with Joel Embiid or with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards would surely have appeal for those teams, at least on the surface.
But it also doesn’t change the underlying issue here, which is that it’s widely known that Lillard’s desire is to join the Miami Heat, so even at that stage, any other team stepping in and striking a deal would have to wonder how it’ll play out. For the Sixers, as the example, do they really want to take the risk that there’s another disgruntled superstar teaming up with Embiid? If that wound up becoming an issue, who’s to say that the Sixers don’t wind up having to part with Lillard and Embiid at some point over the frustration of a rotating top end of the roster?
It’s anyone’s guess.