The Portland Trail Blazers had another tough campaign in the 2020-21 season as they finished with a 42-30 record, which ultimately led to another first-round exit in the playoffs. After their season ended, Damian Lillard was immediately caught in the middle of countless trade rumors up to this day. Could the Brooklyn Nets be a landing spot?
The six-time All-Star is currently under contract with the Trail Blazers after he signed a five-year, $140 million supermax deal in 2016-17. Despite his contract situation, he can still force his way out by publicly demanding a trade from the team’s front office.
On that note, several teams across the league would certainly join the Lillard sweepstakes if he chooses to find a new home soon. The Nets have a couple of intriguing pieces that they could ship in order to land Lillard on their roster for next season.
With that said, here is the perfect trade that could go down and work for both sides:
Nets trade Kyrie Irving and Landry Shamet in exchange for Lillard
Kyrie Irving remains to be one of the league’s marquee stars today. However, the past season has seen how he would engage in his usual off-court antics, which include his reluctance to talk to the media and violating health protocols in a public party along with his lengthy mid-season absence away from the Nets.
Irving’s immense level of talent would eventually compensate for his lack of attendance as he would still play like his usual self on the floor. Certainly enough, his skillfulness and playing abilities can always be relied on to win games but it’s in his actions that can ultimately make or break a team’s locker room.
If Irving can limit his questionable actions and put his full focus on playing ball then he would definitely be a player that every team would be happy to have on their roster. Regardless, he remains to be a solid starter who finished the past season with an All-Star appearance and an All-NBA Third Team selection.
Meanwhile, by the Nets trading away their starting point guard in Irving, they would gain another great talent in Lillard. Dame would bring even more firepower to the team as he has already shown that he can play at an MVP-caliber level in recent seasons as compared to Irving. Lillard is also less injury-prone than his counterpart which is extremely vital for a Nets squad that is eyeing to be a strong title contender in the years to come.
Shipping Irving in exchange for Lillard surely won’t be a fair deal so Brooklyn would also have to include a capable backup in Landry Shamet into the trade package. The 24-year-old played a key role in the Nets’ backcourt, especially during the stretch where both Irving and James Harden missed multiple games due to injuries.
He averaged 9.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 61 appearances in the 2020-21 season. Portland would definitely benefit from his timely contributions if he can continue to play his role effectively even when placed under a new system.
Looking back, Lillard already dismissed his intentions of joining a superteam like the Nets in the future, as proven by his decision to sign a supermax deal with the Trail Blazers. However, he has already proven his loyalty to the team after carrying his teammates on his back for several years, only to fall short of reaching the NBA Finals. The Trail Blazers’ lack of urgency in surrounding him with better weapons is certainly a legitimate reason for him to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
Despite the stance that he previously held, Lillard would benefit from having a change in scenery at this point of his career where he is already entering his prime at 30 years old. At the same time, the Nets already have a roster that can definitely vie for the title when healthy and Lillard can potentially fit right in alongside Harden and Kevin Durant.
Though Damian Lillard’s availability to trades has yet to be confirmed, the Nets should still try to go after him in order to give themselves a greater chance of capturing the title that they have long been waiting for.