We won’t see Damian Lillard back on the court until the season turns. When we do, will he still be the starting Point Guard for the Portland Trailblazers?
Is he willing to work through a rebuild into his mid thirties? Let’s be clear, Portland is definitely rebuilding. It’s not just about Lillard’s commitment to Portland, but also, is Portland committed to him? If his contract is any indictor, the answer is yes. Damian Lillard seems to be the one piece the Blazers refuse to part with after moving on from LaMarcus Aldrige and most recently, CJ McCollum – Dame remains.
When the 2022-2023 NBA season kicks off Damian Lillard will be 32, a quarter of a way through his new contract extension and leading a team that has no plans of competing anytime soon, unless it happens via the NBA draft. Dame’s contract is rich. He’s well taking care of, with no remaining years below $42 million, annually; but can he win in Portland? No, he cannot.
Is there a fit in the league for Lillard at that price, coming off of injury? There are plenty of suitors but who is willing to pick up that contract? If there’s one team that could benefit from a finisher, and a playmaker at the point guard position, it’s the Boston Celtics.
Boston receives: Damian Lillard
Portland receives: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart
Jaylen Brown is a free agent in 2024, allowing Portland to clean the books, should they choose to in 2024, as opposed to the Lillard contact expiring in 2025. The Trailblazers would also be a better team shedding Lillard and adding Brown and Smart. In 2024 Jaylen Brown will be only 27 years old, compared to a 33 year old Damian Lillard. Marcus Smart is more than adequate offensively, and one of the best defenders in the game. These are two solid pieces the Blazers can stack around as they rebuild their brand.
Jaylen Brown should be considered untradeable, unless the return is a significant boost to championship chances, which it is. The Celtics are a good team, and currently one of the hotter teams in the league, but they are not good enough to win the East. Pairing Lillard with Jayson Tatum immediately makes them one of the favorites in the East.