Since the Portland Trail Blazers endured another early playoff exit, it’s sprouted chatter around Damian Lillard’s future. The star point guard is moving toward territory that may see him play elsewhere if he desires. With all that in mind, Lillard and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James just created an additional buzz around the entire situation.
Damian Lillard heading into a rocky situation with the Blazers
The Blazers suffered their fourth first-round playoff exit in the last five years, creating a discussion around Lillard’s long-term future.
The 30-year-old hasn’t voiced he wants to leave Portland, but another year of the prime of his career went by without contending for an NBA title. Meanwhile, reports recently emerged stating he’s beginning to contemplate his future after receiving significant fan base push back for the team’s head coach search process.
On top of that, another intriguing wrinkle was added to the situation that involved a particular Lakers star forward.
LeBron James and Damian Lillard spark Lakers trade rumors with a simple handshake
As the rumor mill remains active around Lillard’s status with the Blazers, his actions on Wednesday night sparked chatter around his NBA future.
The star point guard attended the Los Angeles Sparks and Las Vegas Aces game at Staples Center that coincided with LeBron James being in attendance. The four-time league MVP went to the game before attending an event at Six Flags Magic Mountain in nearby Valencia, California, for the upcoming Space Jam 2 film.
The two stars created a buzz after exchanging pleasantries on the sideline during the Sparks game. It became quite obvious they knew what the interaction would do to those watching them.
It’s well documented that James holds tremendous respect for Lillard’s game. Meanwhile, reports emerged last month stating he’s making a behind-the-scenes push to lure the seven-time All-Star to Los Angeles.
A lot would need to transpire before any legitimate chatter can sprout regarding a realistic scenario the star guard joins the Lakers. Lillard has yet to inform the Blazers that he wants a trade this offseason. Until the situation reaches that point, any move to Los Angeles remains a pie-in-the-sky scenario.
Nonetheless, any public interaction between the two stars will only fuel speculation around one day seeing them become teammates.
Lakers will have intriguing free agency options
Although the Lakers would love to acquire Lillard, the scenario remains a pipe dream.
The front office holds several roster decisions that will be pivotal toward pushing the team back into NBA title contention. Los Angeles has several players such as Dennis Schroder, Andre Drummond, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wesley Matthews, and Markieff Morris set to hit the open market.
Meanwhile, former Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell will likely decline his $9.7 million player option next season to become a free agent. The Lakers must first guide through those situations before making a serious run toward Lillard or another star player.
Los Angeles may have some other backcourt options that could emerge in free agency, such as Kyle Lowry or Spencer Dinwiddie. Recent reports stated the front office might make another push to land Lowry after the failed attempt before this past season’s trade deadline.
The chatter around Dinwiddie stems from him privately voicing he wants to play in his hometown of Los Angeles. The Lakers could fulfill his aspirations with a chance to potentially compete for an NBA title. However, the chances of landing either Lowry or Dinwiddie may lie solely through a sign-and-trade scenario.
The front office holds much work ahead, but it’s clear the franchise will have its options to improve the roster.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.