Damian Lillard trade rumors are officially back like Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator.” That could prove to be good news for one team in particular.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said this week on “NBA Countdown” that the Portland Trail Blazers star, thought he would like to stay put, has the New York Knicks in mind as the one destination he would entertain a trade to.
“Damian Lillard does want to stay in Portland,” said Smith. “If you talk to him, his whole thing is, ‘I wanna be here. This is where I wanna be. This is where I wanna retire.’ The only thing that would really really tickle him and make him entertain leaving Portland, believe it or not, is going to the New York Knicks.
“There are people in his camp that would like to convince him to give [the] Philadelphia [76ers] stronger consideration,” Smith added. “But when he thinks about the New York Knicks, he thinks about going to the top market in the country, thinks about, obviously, marketability … Damian Lillard knows that if he were in the Mecca, it would be far easier for him to recruit teammates to wanna come and play with him as opposed to him being in the Pacific Northwest. The New York Knicks would be his No. 1 preference.”
It wwas inevitable that Lillard trade rumors would return with Portland’s rough start to the 2021-22 campaign. They are now under .500 on the year, have a rookie head coach in Chauncey Billups, and are going through some organizational turmoil right now. Lillard is also dealing with an abdominal injury that will now keep him sidelined through mid-December, putting the Blazers at risk of really coming apart at the seams.
The Knicks have had noted interest in Lillard for several months now. Their associate head coach, Johnnie Bryant, is also famously close with Lillard as a fellow Oakland, Calif. native. Now it sounds like the interest could be starting to teeter towards mutual for the six-time All-Star guard.
H/T Ahn Fire Digital
Photo: Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports