Damian Lillard’s loyalty to the Portland Trail Blazers has been well-documented over the last decade. As he continues to ascend to new levels of stardom, the 30-year-old point guard has maintained his commitment to winning a championship with the team that drafted him.
However, a report this past weekend from insider Chris Haynes suggested that Lillard might request out. The Blazers have fiercely denied the idea, but it’s possible that the league is about to witness the sharpshooter become the latest superstar to force a trade.
At least one team will prepared if he does.
According to SNY’s Ian Begley, the New York Knicks have been keeping an eye on the situation in Portland. The organization started to conduct “prep work” on the possibility of Lillard becoming available and what it would take to pry him out.
The Knicks have long expressed interest in bringing a star back to Madison Square Garden. Lillard might be the right player to fit the bill.
… As you’d expect, members of the Knicks organization have been doing homework/prep work on the possibility of Lillard becoming available via trade, per sources.
Dating back to Steve Mills’ tenure as team president, the Knicks have been keeping on eye on Lillard’s situation in Portland because some around Lillard wanted to see the six-time All Star in a bigger market.
According to sources, the Knicks have been doing homework on the possibility of acquiring Damian Lillard via trade (via @IanBegley)
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 29, 2021
Although the Knicks and other teams would be interested in trading for Lillard, the Blazers don’t plan on shopping their star point guard anytime soon. Portland general manager Neil Olshey quashed any talk of the matter in a press conference on Tuesday.
“Dame and I talk all the time. Dame’s happiness always revolves around winning. The ultimate responsibility behind that falls on me and my staff to put a team together,” Olshey said, according to Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report.
“Every indication is that Dame doesn’t want to leave Portland. He wants to retire a Trail Blazer. He’s expressed that to the stakeholders.”
The Knicks vastly outperformed expectations set out for them prior to the 2020-21 season. Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau led the franchise to a 41-31 record and an Eastern Conference Playoff berth. Julius Randle, who won the league’s Most Improved Player award this season, led a group of savvy veterans throughout the year, surprising fans and media members alike.
However, the addition of Lillard would turn the Knicks from a pretender to a serious contender instantly. The 30-year-old sharpshooter has established himself as one of the premier scorers in the NBA and has showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon.