Even though Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has maintained that he isn’t actively pursuing a trade, rumors of his impending departure persist. The latest rumor comes from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who recently “revealed” Lillard’s top trade destination.
Appearing on Sirius XM NBA Radio, Stephen A. declared that the New York Knicks are “his number one destination” for a trade. He explained that Lillard would have an easier time recruiting people to play with him in New York than in Portland.
“I happen to know for a fact that even though Damian Lillard isn’t really keen on getting traded from Portland that – if he were to get traded from Portland – the New York Knicks would be his number one destination,” Stephen A. Smith said before qualifying his statement. “I’m telling you what I know. I’m not guessing. I know this for a fact. Y’all figure out how.”
Given Stephen A. Smith’s shaky history with predictions, his statement should probably be taken with a grain of salt. That said, it’s not like the Knicks are exactly a massive underdog in the Lillard sweepstakes.
The Knicks of cap space, assets, players with trade value and are coming off a fourth-place finish in the East.
Stephen A Smith: "If [Damian Lillard] were to get traded from Portland, New York Knicks would be his number one destination."
Also mentions Lillard’s ability to recruit players like Tatum and Embiid to a big market like New York
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 1, 2021
In the 2020-21 season, the New York Knicks under head coach Tom Thibodeau had a 20-win turnaround. They went 41-31, finishing 4th in the East and making the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
But the team had a glaring hole at point guard which was exposed in their 4-1 playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
It’s widely expected that the Knicks will pursue any point guard they can get their hands on in free agency. But if they can get Damian Lillard, one of the most well-established guards in the NBA, they might go from a fringe playoff team to a legitimate title contender.
Are the New York Knicks actually the preferred trade destination for Damian Lillard, or is Stephen A. Smith misinformed?