The Portland Trail Blazers have a dilemma on their hands. Damian Lillard wants out, and he specifically wants to be sent to the Miami Heat.
Unfortunately, Miami’s proposed trade package for Lillard is atrocious. Aside from perhaps the deal that sent Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s hard to think of a superstar offering as weak as the one the Heat have for Lillard.
Even the dark horse contenders for Lillard’s services bring more impressive proposals to the table.
Which is why the Blazers’ stance on moving Lillard to Miami has been what it has been over the past few days.
Something is going to have to give — and given that Lillard doesn’t have a ton of leverage to call his shot, he may have to be the one to make a concession.
That concession? Agreeing to play for a different championship contender.
Over the past 24 hours two separate reports have surfaced linking Lillard to the Boston Celtics.
While appearing on ESPN’s NBA Today this weekend, insider Marc Speaks seemed to suggest that Jayson Tatum was recruiting Lillard to Boston.
“I’m hearing Jayson Tatum is knocking on that door now too to figure out a way to get [Lillard] to come to Boston,” Spears said.
It is a known fact that the Celtics have made overtures regarding Lillard’s services. Bleacher Report NBA insider Chris Haynes said as much during a recent appearance on his podcast.
“The Clippers, the Timberwolves, Pelicans, Boston Celtics … I’m pretty sure there were more — those were the teams that I know called out to reach out to see what it would take (to land Lillard),” Haynes told his co-host, Marc Stein.
What works in Boston’s favor is that, out of all the possible teams out there vying for Lillard’s services, nobody has as attractive a proposal as they do.
During a recent appearance on his podcast, Bill Simmons broke down what the Celtics bring to the table.
“I don’t see a trade, other than the Miami trade, which I don’t think is going to happen, that will propel (Lillard) to some sort of, ‘oh, now he’s on the cusp,’ unless it’s the Celtics,” Simmons said.
“And that’s why — now, Jaylen Brown could sign this extension in five minutes and this will be moot, but I just keep circling that trade wondering, it’s starting to make more and more sense to me.”
In that scenario, Simmons sees Brown going elsewhere – not Portland.
“I think there would have to be a third team,” he continued.
“I think Jaylen would have to go to, like, Houston. And then Houston would have to send stuff to Portland. And then Portland would send Dame to Boston.
“But if (Lillard) wants to win a title, and it’s not Miami, where else is it? What guarantees him to actually be close to being in the mix? You go through the teams, and everybody either has their team already or they can’t make the trade.”
Up to this point the Celtics have maintained that they don’t want to trade Brown. That being said, as Marcus Smart revealed this week, the front office has no issues lying about that sort of stuff.
Tatum and Brown have at times proven to be an odd fit together. Lillard and Tatum could flow much more smoothly.
Sometimes when something makes a lot of sense on paper, even if everyone involved says it’s not going to happen, it could still happen.
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And that is precisely what Lillard-to-Boston is. On paper, it solves everyone’s problems.
Lillard goes to a contender. Tatum gets a more fitting running mate. Brown gets to be a superstar elsewhere. Portland gets a hefty return for a top-75 player in NBA history.
Will Lillard end up with the Celtics when it’s all said and done? Time will tell, but there is no denying that the trade would make a ton of sense.