The Portland Trail Blazers saw their season come to an end on Thursday night at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. In the aftermath, the usual questions that pop up when the Blazers lose in the postseason began circulating, although this time, pointed postgame comments and an Instagram post from Damian Lillard appeared to make clear that the team needs a broad plan to go from a consistently solid team in the Western Conference to a legitimate contender.
And of course, because this is a centerpiece of the discourse around the end of the Blazers’ season, plenty of folks are wondering about Lillard’s future with the franchise, despite the fact that he’s made clear he would like to play out his career in Portland. Of course, things can change, and on Friday morning’s edition of First Take, Stephen A. Smith reported that some teams immediately reached out after the Nuggets loss about Lillard’s availability, with “six or seven” believing they have a path to getting him this offseason.
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“Several calls have come their way,” Smith said. “You got a lot of teams, about six or seven different teams, believe they can get their hands on him. They think they’ve got a shot. One of them includes the Knicks, who’s scheduled to have about $75 million in cap space along with some picks, but also, the Clippers, the Miami Heat, and who knows what the Lakers may try to do.”
It is important to stress that the gap between “teams think they have a shot” and “Lillard is actually attainable in a trade” is pretty gigantic, because there are 29 teams in the league that would love to trade for Lillard but that doesn’t matter if the one that he currently plays for has no interest in moving him. Still, a fun thing to monitor is going to be whether the teams that have the pieces to intrigue Portland try to make a move, because it’s much easier to say a guy is untouchable when there is no formal trade offer on your desk.