One of the big unsolved cases in the NBA this offseason was Operation Damian Lillard. The point guard seems determined to leave Portland before this competition after indications from his team that there is no ambitious project to aim for the championship title starting this season.
Their favorite destination appears to be the Miami Heat, but the Lakers could be willing to sacrifice a large part of their structure in the future to unite LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Lillard on the same team.
Fadeaway World journalist Eddie Bitar evaluated a hypothetical trade that would take Lillard from Portland to the Lakers for D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and Los Angeles’ 2029 first-round pick.
With this exchange, the Californians now have a real “Big Three”. LeBron has always been a player who creates plays for his team, and that role would clash with Lillard’s, but “King James” would be willing to share that role with a quality player.
The sacrifice for the Lakers would be without Reaves, who has adapted perfectly to the role of shooting guard or small forward when needed. At 25 years old and the good defense he provides, the Arkansas native would be the most valuable piece they would lose in California.
Rui Hachimura could be replaced by newly signed Christian Wood, while Russell appears to have no place for coach Darvin Ham.
In Portland, they have set the bar very high for trading “checkers.” They want four first-round draft picks and two top players to be part of the Trail Blazers’ starting quintet in the 2023-24 season.
The Oakland-born point guard has made his intentions to play for Miami clear, but his contract does not contain a “no-trade” clause, so he cannot veto a decision by the Blazers. If the Lakers offer a package that fits Portland’s needs, they can add Lillard to their championship project.