If Damian Lillard requests a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes the All-Star guard will end up with the New York Knicks.
Before the Atlanta Hawks hosted the Philadelphia 76ers on ESPN on December 3, Smith claimed his sources told him that Lillard would angle for a trade to the Knicks if he finally asked the Blazers to trade him. It’s worth mentioning that Smith is a die-hard Knicks fan, so there could be some bias here.
However, the veteran sports analyst also reported that people in Lillard’s camp want the All-NBA guard to give the Sixers stronger consideration.
Stephen A. Smith: Damian Lillard wants to play for Knicks if he’s done with Blazers
The Blazers recently fired Neil Olshey as general manager and president of basketball operations. Olshey was under investigation for workplace misconduct, and Portland found that he violated the team’s code of conduct.
Joe Cronin has been promoted to general manager on an interim basis. Many people around the NBA believe this is the perfect time for the Blazers to trade Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic and embark on a rebuild. Lillard hasn’t requested a trade yet, but if he does, Smith is reporting that the Knicks are his preferred destination.
“If Damian Lillard doesn’t want to stay, and he does want to stay in Portland. If you talk to him, his whole thing is I wanna be here, this is where I wanna be, this is where I wanna retire. The only thing that would really, really tickle him and make him entertain wanting to leave Portland, believe it or not, is going to the New York Knicks,” Smith said.
“There are people in his camp that would like to convince him to give Philadelphia stronger consideration, but when he thinks about the New York Knicks, he thinks about going to the top market in the country, thinks about obviously marketability. He might not be thinking about that, but his team might be thinking about that, but Damian Lillard knows that if he were in the Mecca, it would be far easier for him to recruit teammates to want and come play with him as opposed to him being in the pacific northwest. The New York Knicks would be his No. 1 preference. Not the Lakers, not the Brooklyn Nets, not the Philadelphia 76ers.”
Lillard has said multiple times he wants to spend his entire career with the Blazers. However, the six-time All-Star has to know by now that he’s not going to compete for a championship in Portland. With that said, now is the perfect time for Lillard to request a trade and play for a contender.
It’s time for Damian Lilllard to request a trade
Although Lillard has only missed the playoffs once since getting drafted by the Blazers, he’s made it past the second round one time. Portland got swept by the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 Western Conference Finals. Since then, the franchise has gotten bounced in the first round in 2020 and 2021.
Lillard is 31. He’s done everything he can to try and lead the Blazers to the promised land. McCollum is a good scorer and has All-Star talent, but Portland can’t compete for a championship with him as its second-best player.
Superstars aren’t going to sign with the Blazers despite how talented Lillard is. For the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year to get the most out of his career, he needs to pull an Anthony Davis and get out of Portland. Davis requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans and was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Chicago native won a championship with the purple and gold in his first season.
Suppose Lillard requests a trade, and the Knicks get word that the Weber State product wants to play in the Big Apple. In that case, the Knickerbockers could offer Portland Kemba Walker, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and multiple future draft picks. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Blazers would say yes. However, it’s a nice starter’s package to begin trade talks.
The Knicks need a bonafide superstar if they want to make noise in the playoffs. Julius Randle is a good player, but you’re not going very far if he’s your top performer. After making the postseason last year, the Knicks have struggled out of the gates this campaign, making it all the more sense in the world for Leon Rose to trade for Lillard.
However, the Knicks should wait a few weeks before calling the Blazers.
Star guard is hurt
Lillard will miss at least 10 games with lower abdominal tendinopathy. The guard last played on November 29 against the Utah Jazz.
Dame is averaging 21.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 7.8 assists on the season while shooting 39.7% from the field, 30.2% from beyond the arc, and 91.1% from the free-throw line.
The Knicks could become elite contenders in the East with Lillard, Randle, and Derrick Rose leading the way. New York fans are certainly praying that Lillard requests a trade to the Knickerbockers, while Blazers fans are holding out hope that their star keeps his word and retires in Portland.