One of the Golden State Warriors’ Pacific Division rivals could look a whole lot different next season. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that All-Star guard Damian Lillard is unhappy with how the Portland Trail Blazers conducted their head coaching search.
The Trail Blazers are set to announce the hiring of former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups as their new head coach, a decision that Lillard apparently isn’t too happy with.
The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers’ process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player — Damian Lillard — out the door, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Lillard has remained loyal to Portland in large part due to the tremendous fan base. But over the last few days, he’s seen some of those same fans attacking him on social media for a pending coaching hire he played no part in consummating, sources said.
Lillard advocated for Jason Kidd to replace Terry Stotts, but Kidd wound up declining the opportunity for an interview and instead took over the Dallas Mavericks’ head coaching opening.
It will be fascinating to see how this plays out. Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA who has a career-scoring average of 24.2 points per game and is a six-time All-Star. He has voiced his concern about Portland’s ability to construct a championship contender under the current regime and wants to win a title.
Lillard is owed a little more than $127 million over the remaining three years on his contract, so any deal would have to involve a lot of salary going back to the Trail Blazers.
Lillard joins Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons as the two biggest names that could be available via trade this offseason. For the Warriors to get involved in any discussions, they would likely have to include their two lottery picks at this year’s NBA Draft (Nos. 7 and 14), plus one of Draymond Green or Andrew Wiggins.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on First Take that he’s hearing that the Warriors are planning on reaching out to the Sixers about Simmons (h/t Drew Shiller of NBC Bay Area):
“I believe the Golden State Warriors are going to make a push for Ben Simmons. So stay tuned. It’s possible Ben Simmons could end up in Golden State with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
“I’m not saying it’s gonna happen. But calls already have been made, things are percolating and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if something like that ended up going down.”
Simmons had a terrible postseason for a 76ers squad that had the best record in the Eastern Conference. He averaged 9.9 points per game on 6.4 field goals per outing and only connected on 15 of 45 free-throw attempts. To make matters worse, Simmons didn’t even attempt a shot in the fourth quarters of Games 4-7 in the loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
The Warriors would have to take on Simmons’ massive contract if they do make a move for the No. 1 overall pick from the 2016 NBA Draft. Simmons has four years left on his deal will pay him roughly $147 million.
If Lillard and Simmons are both on the trade block, it will make for another crazy NBA offseason. The Warriors have seemed to be involved with many of the big names that have come available, so it won’t be surprising to see general Bob Myers do his due diligence on both players, even if the framework for a deal would be complicated given the contracts of Lillard and Simmons.
On to some links:
How could a deal involving Simmons work between the Warriors and 76ers? Fansided’s Christopher Kline does a nice job of looking at some potential trades.
Given James Wiseman’s struggles during his rookie year, could the Warriors pursue another center this offseason? Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley suggests a trade with the Indiana Pacers that would land a big man in the Bay Area.
Could the Cleveland Cavaliers be an ideal trade partner for the Warriors? NBC Bay Area’s Josh Schrock does a nice job breaking down how a deal between the two clubs could work leading up to the NBA Draft.