In a matter of a week, a stagnant Damian Lillard trade situation has picked up unexpected steam. The Suns, Raptors, 76ers, and Bulls have all had their names tossed around by reporters as teams interested in a Lillard trade.
Whether these reports are genuine or are just speculation (which has been in abundance in the last few months), the fact that they’ve happened in such quick succession after such a long period of silence has many Portland Trail Blazers fans hopeful for a new development.
The best-case scenario is that these reports are indeed real. The inherent problem with Lillard’s trade request, at least from the standpoint of the Blazers, is that only providing one option (the Miami Heat) lowers the incentive for Miami to provide an offer the Blazers like. In a normal trade process, multiple interested teams have to compete against each other to give the trading team an offer to their taste. But with Lillard’s agent calling other teams warning them that Lillard wouldn’t play for them if traded there, clearing the way for an exclusive trade process with Miami, why should the Heat seek to give up more than they need to in order to secure Lillard’s services?
If the latest reports are to be believed, teams are becoming less afraid of trading away their future for a player who may simply decide not to suit up for them. Perhaps there’s more urgency for teams to meet their expectations with training camp now just weeks away. Or perhaps teams are more confident that Blazers GM Joe Cronin isn’t seriously interested in the Heat’s current offer. Whatever the case, a larger group of teams competing for the right to have Lillard on their roster can only be a good thing for the Blazers in terms of receiving more in return for Lillard. The current best way to ensure a bright future for the Blazers is to continue to build around their new developing core with the draft picks and other young players who come back in a Lillard trade.
That’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that all of the recent rumors have been just that: rumors. The offseason is always rife with speculation, and combined with a seismic story like Lillard’s trade request, you get a maelstrom of opinions interpreted as fact and downright clickbait.
Something about what’s come out recently feels different, though. There have been more reporters and other ostensible people in the know calling their shot, making more definitive statements.
For now, however, it’s best to remain skeptical of the reports coming out from the various corners of the NBA. Until these stories are corroborated by other reports in the next few weeks, it’s all right to raise an eyebrow at these bold statements. And even if some or all of the reports turn out to be legitimate, it’s worth asking how consequential they are. Plenty of teams would naturally be interested in trading for a player of Lillard’s caliber, but being interested and being willing to produce a viable trade package are vastly different things. And unfortunately, that progression takes time.
So while Blazers fans should rightfully be excited that there are finally some hints of development in the trade situation, they are likely going to have to remain in suspense for a little longer.