A few thoughts on Damian Lillard as it relates to the Knicks:
Lillard won’t be moved until he asks for a trade or Portland ownership signs off on a complete rebuild.
If the Blazers are going to completely tear down the current roster, you’d think that they’d want to hire their next top basketball executive first.
When they announced that Joe Cronin was taking over following Neil Olshey’s termination, the club said that it would start to look for a permanent executive.
So unless Lillard changes his mind and asks for a trade, I don’t think there’s any reason to talk about a Lillard trade until Portland hires its next executive – or commits to Cronin full time.
With that said, people around the Blazers last summer were under the impression that Olshey was highly unlikely to trade Lillard to the Knicks if he pulled the trigger on a deal.
Will the next top Blazers exec – or Cronin – feel the same way about sending Lillard to New York if they decide to trade him?
That’s impossible to know.
But if you’re interested in what the Knicks can offer Portland in a trade, here’s a look at some of the key factors in a potential Knicks-Blazers trade and three Knicks packages that would work under NBA trade rules (as always, thanks to cap maven Albert Nahmad for his insight and assistance).
Lillard is making $39.3 million this season, so the Knicks would effectively need to send out at least $31.4 million to get him. Portland would probably want to shed salary in a Lillard trade (the club is $3 million over the tax line). The Knicks help them do that. And New York would probably have to take back more players than just Lillard in the trade, which would lower Portland’s tax bill.
Package No. 1
Package No. 2
Package No. 3
Barrett, Quickley, Toppin, three first-round picks (straight up/swap). Including Rose and Taj Gibson in this deal would satisfy NBA trade rules.
One other thing to note about the Knicks and Lillard: New York – or any team that trades for Lillard – may need to make a significant financial commitment to the All-Star guard. ESPN reported that Lillard will seek a two-year, $107-million contract extension this offseason.
Also, does it make sense for a team like the Knicks to gut its roster for Lillard? In my opinion, you make a trade for Lillard if you know that it will lead to another top player coming to town. If it’s just Lillard, Julius Randle, and players to fill out the roster, it’s hard to see how that sets New York up for long-term success.