By 750 THE GAME STAFF
Damian Lillard’s run in Portland could be coming to an end.
“Could” does not mean “will.”
With Portland holding the third overall pick in the NBA Draft in less than two weeks, and Lillard having gone on the record saying he does not want to wait for another young prospect to develop while Lillard moves into the tail end of his prime, the franchise is at a crossroads.
Draft a future star at No. 3 and risk Dame’s ire? Or trade the pick for an established veteran star to pair alongside Lillard. to contend right away?
Lillard appeared on Brian Custer’s ShowTime podcast “The Last Stand” this week and made a number of intriguing comments, including when Custer asked him if he preferred any particular team in the event the Trail Blazers did trade him.
Custer offered Miami, Boston, New York, and Brooklyn as possible landing spots for Dame.
Does any one of those destinations stand out?
“Miami, obviously,” Lillard answered with a laugh.
“Miami is the obvious one. And Bam is my dog. Bam is my dog, for real.”
Obvious because the Heat is in the NBA Finals as just the second 8-seed in league history to reach the Finals.
Lillard would fit quite well playing alongside the likes of his friend Bam Adebayo in the backcourt and the relentless Jimmy Butler off the ball. Not to mention the superior coaching acumen of Erik Spoelstra.
But Miami isn’t the only landing spot drawing Lillard’s intrigue.
“Brooklyn’s another obvious one, because Mikal Bridges is my dog, too,” Lillard added, saying both the Nets and Heat have “capable rosters” to contend in the East.
Trail Blazers fans have a difficult time imagining Lillard in any uniform other than one in Rip City, as well they should. Trading one of – if not the best – players in franchise history is as difficult a thing to do for any organization in pro sports.
Perhaps it is worth considering, though, Lillard’s preferences when getting trade suitors on the phone.
Lillard went on to say he speaks regularly with Adebayo and is also cool with Butler, but reiterated his top preference is to remain in Portland and win with the Trail Blazers.
“I think I’m going to be in a Blazers uniform,” Lillard said. “I’m participating and trying to build what we need to build. And that’s where I am.”
DRAFT SCOOT, TRADE DAME. BILL SIMMONS SOUNDS OFF ON TRAIL BLAZERS CROSSROADS.