Three reasons the Lakers can’t trade for the Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard

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As long as an NBA star is available as a free agent or a business target, or actually, could possibly will be available at some point in the future – the Lakers automatically connect to that player. Standard Photoshop images quickly hit social media and fake exchanges are built.

Damian Lillard has this treatment, of course. The Trail Blazers star expressed frustration with the state of his team after Denver defeated Portland in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs despite losing Jamal Murray and Will Barton. His surprisingly forthright comments made fans and analysts alike wonder if he would consider requesting a trade during the offseason.

“Where we are is not good enough to win a championship if it is not good enough to come out of a first-round series with two of his best three or four players off the court.” Lillard said.

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Speculation about Lillard’s status and the possibility of joining the Lakers accelerated once more afterwards. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports recently reported on Lillard’s summer reunion with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“‘Bron asked what I was thinking about my situation, and I told him what I’m telling you: I just want to be in a position to win it all,” Lillard told Haynes. “He painted the picture for me that if I left, the situation could look like this. He didn’t tell me to go to Los Angeles, and he didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t know other than how it might look.

“I said, ‘I know if I played with all of you, I know it would work because of my skill set,’ and who I am and who you are.”

Uh oh. Should the people of Portland be concerned? No, not really. There are three big reasons Lillard won’t be heading to Los Angeles any time soon.

Damian Lillard wants to win a championship with the Trail Blazers

While Lillard acknowledged that he knew how he would fit in alongside James and Davis, he also told Haynes that he was hesitant to join any version of a “super team.”

“I’m sure it would be great to play with LeBron and AD and play in a great market, but as attractive as it sounds and as fun as it is, I don’t feel in my heart that that’s what I am or where I belong,” Lillard said. “And one thing I want to emphasize is that this decision was not made out of comfort. I am not afraid of being out of my comfort zone because I will live here when I finish playing regardless. My decision based on what I really want to do.” .

Echoed that sentiment during a freestyle at “Bars On I-95”, rapping that “not wanting to join a super team could end up being my Achilles heel.”

Lillard has also rejected the idea of ​​playing for other title contenders. After 76ers fans cheered for Lillard during a game at the Wells Fargo Center, the six-time All-Star told reporters it was “fun” to hear. Lillard is definitely aware that the sixers cover itBut some “brotherly love” won’t alter your posture.

“I know what it is and I know what it’s about. But I’m a Trail Blazer,” said Lillard (via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps). “I appreciate the love. I appreciate the respect they showed and the desire or whatever, but I have 10 fingers in Rip City, and I’ve said it over and over again and tonight I laughed at that during the starting lineups, but that was that. . “

Lillard’s mission is to bring a title to Portland. He saw Giannis Antetokounmpo win a championship with the Bucks and he wants to have a similar experience with the only franchise he has ever known.

“I want to win a championship here. And because of how strong I feel about it, I don’t know how rewarding it would be for me right now if I won elsewhere,” Lillard told Haynes. “Winning it here would be an achievement in my life.”

PLUS: How long will LeBron James be out?

Neil Olshey won’t trade Damian Lillard

Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey never seemed interested in discussing a Lillard trade in general, but “there’s no way” he would trade it to the Lakers, according to Haynes. That is the most definitive thing you can get.

Olshey made some minor changes to the roster during the offseason and I never considered moving Lillard. His biggest shock came when he hired Chauncey Billups to replace longtime coach Terry Stotts. Olshey believes Billups is capable of driving Portland deeper into the playoffs after back-to-back first-round blackouts.

“Chauncey is a proven leader with an elite basketball IQ who has won everywhere he’s been.” Olshey said in June. “He is up for the challenge of developing the championship habits and strategic focus that we need to achieve the expectations and goals of our franchise.”

However, it has been a bumpy start to the 2021-22 campaign. The Trail Blazers have lost three of their last four games, and as long as they keep fighting, questions about whether Lillard can achieve his ultimate goal in Portland will remain.

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Lakers don’t have a great trade package for Damian Lillard

Let’s say Lillard gets mad at the idea of ​​sticking with the Trail Blazers, and Olshey changes his tune, too. Even if that happens, again, there is no indication that either party wants to end the relationship, what exactly could the Lakers offer that would place them above other suitors?

Los Angeles is not going to change James or Davis. It could put Russell Westbrook on the table, but it would only help keep Portland on the same level as the Western Conference. The Lakers sent their best young players and draft picks to acquire Davis, so there isn’t much left on their roster that intrigues the Trail Blazers. (It’s also worth noting that matching wages would be a major hurdle.)

Unless the Lakers got extremely creative and involved another team in this process, a hugely successful deal just couldn’t happen. But hey, we will always have the Photoshops.

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