The 2021-22 NBA season was unkind to Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard.
The 30-year-old was bothered by injuries from start to finish, saw his best teammate get traded away and failed to make the playoffs.
Through it all, Lillard has also been forced to fend off a never-ending cascade of trade rumors.
Despite that, the Blazers star has maintained a fairly good attitude. He didn’t turtle up. He didn’t get mad. He continued to stay as open with fans and the media as he always has been. And that openness was on display this week, when he was presented with an interesting question: which modern-day NBA star would he like to team up with most?
Lillard didn’t even hesitate:
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) May 15, 2022
It’s easy to see why Giannis Antetokounmpo would be on top of Lillard’s wish list.
In a Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics where his team got blown out 109-81, one where he was exhausted from carrying the squad for the entire season and playoffs, Antetokounmpo still put up 25 points and 20 rebounds with 9 assists.
That’s after putting up 44 points and 20 rebounds in Game 6.
The man is a beast.
As a two-time league MVP and a former Defensive Player of the Year, Antetokounmpo also boasts the skills necessary on both ends to really make a mark on the game. So it stands to reason that Lillard would want to team up with him.
Unfortunately, due to contract situations and salary caps, that pairing isn’t feasible.
One a little more realistic? Phoenix Suns big man Deandre Ayton and Lillard. Which is precisely why this liked tweet by Lillard on Sunday night led to so much intrigue:
Lillard need help in Portland. Ayton is a restricted free agent who, by all accounts, appears to be done in Phoenix. This could be a win-win for all sides.
Yikes Celtics. https://t.co/IfR6Qnu6tv
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 15, 2022
The Blazers don’t need to go out and acquire Antetokounmpo for Lillard. But they do need to get him some help.
If they don’t, expect for trade talks to intensify heading into 2022-23.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.