New York Knicks Among Teams Tipped To Land Damian Lillard
The New York Knicks have been touted as one of the teams which could land Portland Trail Blazers superstar guard Damian Lillard via trade this season.
There’s a lot of speculation over Portland as of late, especially given the team’s decision to part ways with longtime general manager Neil Olshey. The 52-year old had been with the Blazers since 2012, the same year Lillard was drafted, but was terminated this month for reasons unknown.
Olshey’s exit has led to rumors that Lillard could depart as well. The player is also thought to be unhappy with the state of affairs in Portland amid what looks to be an unsuccessful season while there’s reportedly friction between newly-appointed head coach Chauncey Billups and the team.
Lillard has been linked to the Knicks, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers, but New York does seem the more attractive destination and New York sports betting would certainly tip the odds in that direction if it came down to him leaving the only team he has ever played for professionally.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith recently made claims of New York being the prime landing spot for the All-Star point guard.
“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,” the reporter said on NBA Countdown (H/T nbaanalysis.net). There are people in his camp that would like to convince him to give Philadelphia stronger consideration.
“Damian Lillard knows that if he were in the mecca, it would be far easier for him to recruit teammates to wanna come and play with him as opposed to him being in the Pacific North-West.”
A move to New York would see lots of off-court opportunities open up for Lillard as the Knicks play in the NBA’s biggest market. His chances of winning a title would be better with the Sixers, however.
Philly is playing some of the most decent basketball in the NBA despite not having Ben Simmons in the mix.
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They’re seventh in the Eastern Conference at the moment but only 3.5 games behind the conference-leading Brooklyn Nets.
Their recent dip is due to health and safety concerns and they should return to a more familiar spot once things are sorted out on that front. Pairing Lillard with another All-Star in Joel Embiid would certainly see the 76ers challenge for championships.
Philly also has more to send the other way, with the wantaway Simmons still a major trading chip despite his value dipping on the back of what’s turned into a full-blown saga. The Sixers would likely have to give up bright youngsters such as Tyrese Maxey as part of any deal.
The Knicks do have players and draft picks they could use to make a trade work, though. This is not something typically said of the Knicks but things have changed drastically over there since the acquisition of new management and coaching.
As suggested above, the Knicks present better opportunities for players off the court but they simply can’t compete with the 76ers on it.
Should Lillard really want out, the Knicks won’t be wasting any time getting a package and a proposal together.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Lillard’s desire for a two-year $107 million extension will hamper the Blazers’ search for a new GM. The team’s next GM will have the difficulty of working out an extension for the player.
“Lillard wants a two-year, $107 million extension in July, and he and his agent need the next general manager to sell ownership on the idea,” Wojnarowski reports. “As much as anything, this cuts to the core of the Blazers’ search process. His desire for an extension into his advanced NBA years has turned into a battle for the franchise’s future, an existential threat to reshaping and redirecting the organization in a post-playoff reality.”
Lillard signed a four-year max extension to remain in Portland after the Blazers reached the Western Conference in 2019. His current deal will keep him around through the 2024/25 season and league rules make him eligible for an extension on the third anniversary of the date his last deal was signed.
He would be able to sign an extension in July 2022.
ESPN further adds that there isn’t much interest in the vacancy in Portland due to the impending talks over a new deal for the player and an incoming GM would want to have the team’s blessing to trade the point guard.
“Among several top-level GM candidates who fit the profile of Portland’s applicant pool, there’s no enthusiasm to grant Lillard his massive extension contract through the 2026-27 season,” the aforementioned outlet states. “In fact, several executives told ESPN they would be far more interested in the Blazers job with ownership’s blessing to move Lillard sooner than later.” It will be interesting to see what comes out of the change in Portland. The Knicks will certainly be monitoring the situation.