By STEVEN VAUGHAN, 750 THE GAME
Damian Lillard hasn’t asked for a trade yet. That doesn’t mean that teams aren’t preparing themselves just in case he does.
Earlier in the week, ESPN’s Brian Windhorsdt said that the Miami Heat could be a suitor for Lillard if he becomes available.
Are there any other darkhorse teams?
Bill Riley of ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City says Danny Ainge and the Utah Jazz could be in the mix, especially if it meant multiple more seasons of top-level play from Dame.
“If it’s two to three years of elite (play), third team All-NBA, yeah, I think so,” Riley told John Canzano on 750 The Game.
“The worry would be, one year of elite, or this was his last year of elite, and then you’re just an all-star for the next three to four years and then that fifth year of that contract you’re paying $63 million dollars for a guy that is a borderline all-star. But if you could take two to three years of elite. I think the Jazz would sign up for that.”
The Jazz may not be on many pundits’ shortlist as a trade destination for Lillard, but in terms of possible assets Portland could receive in a Dame trade, Utah actually makes a lot of sense. They have a ton of assets after trading away Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell this past offseason to Minnesota and Cleveland, respectively. And there is a connection between Lillard and Utah as Lillard played his college ball at Weber State in nearby Ogden.
But of course, the Blazers have to be interested in trading Lillard. And there hasn’t been any indication of that yet.
Riley understands that and he himself even questions if the Blazers are finally at that stage where they are willing to consider trading Lillard.
“The Jazz have the assets. They have the players. They have the draft picks. They have the cap room — all of that. Are the Blazers ready to move on from him?”
Let alone, move him to a team in Portland’s own division.
This Trail Blazers offseason is as important as any offseason in the history of the franchise and could determine what direction the team goes for numerous years. Nobody knows exactly what the Trail Blazers are thinking. Joe Cronin has his work cut out for him.
Listen to the full interview with Bill Riley of ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City by clicking the podcast below, including Riley’s thoughts on Utah football’s early-season schedule and the health of quarterback Cam Rising.
Catch the Bald Faced Truth with John Canzano afternoons 3-6 p.m. in Portland exclusively on 750 The Game.