Lillard wants to be traded to the Miami Heat, but the Blazers front office is focused on getting the best return in a deal from whatever team offers it. While the Lillard trade request is well documented, there are other trade candidates on the roster.
Portland is transitioning to a young core built around Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, and Shaedon Sharpe. Simons and Sharpe have shown flashes that they can be a core part of the future for the Blazers. Henderson is the number three overall pick with a ton of potential and will be the heir at point guard to Lillard.
With Portland's youth movement in full swing, there could be some trades soon. That said, here are two potential trade candidates for the Blazers entering the 2023-24 NBA training camp.
2. Jusuf Nurkic, C
Jusuf Nurkic is a solid center and is one of Lillard's favorite teammates. With Lillard's trade request and the Blazers looking to build up their young players for the future, they could ship the veteran center.
In 52 games last season, Nurkic averaged 13.3 points and 9.1 rebounds while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three. The 29-year-old is an offensive center but is on a big contract. He signed a four-year $70 million extension in 2022 and has three years remaining on the deal.
Although trading him would be ideal for Portland, it could be tough to get off his contract. Including Nurkic in a package with another player is the best option to get off his contract. The Blazers should look to ship him before the season begins.
1. Damian Lillard, PG
The apparent trade candidate for Portland is Lillard. Lillard requested a trade this offseason, and the Blazers have already been working on a deal for him. The 33-year-old guard is still in his prime, averaging 32.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 7.3 assists this past season. He shot 46.3 percent from the floor and 37.1 percent from behind the arc.
Lillard is one of the best players in the league, and Portland will want a haul for him in return. Although Lillard wants to go to the Heat, the Blazers may trade him to another team for a better offer.
The Toronto Raptors are a team that has emerged as a destination. Toronto could have a more enticing package for Portland, as the Blazers could use a forward. The Raptors have a plethora of quality forwards, including OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, and Pascal Siakam. Anunoby is the most likely of the three to be traded, as Barnes and Siakam are both crucial parts of the Raptors core. Portland is also reportedly interested in guard Gradey Dick, who Toronto drafted with their first-round pick.
A Lillard trade is inevitable whether the Blazers make a deal with the Heat, Raptors, or another team. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Portland to make the deal, as training camp is right around the corner.
With the Blazers going into the full youth movement to build around Henderson, Simons, and Sharpe, Lillard and Nurkic should be traded. Portland's return in a trade for Lillard could set them up even more for the future.