The NBA Finals is in full swing, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from continuing to swirl. The Golden State Warriors are one of the teams at the forefront of all the talks, given that they own two lottery picks and still have a championship core in place.
General manager Bob Myers will continue to pursue any avenue he can to build the roster around Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. The Warriors hold the Nos. 7 and 14 picks in the 2021 NBA Draft and could look to package the picks to acquire some veteran help.
One of the names that could be available this offseason is Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard. The six-time All-Star reportedly wasn’t happy with the organization's decision to hire Chauncey Billups to replace Terry Stotts as the head coach.
Lillard hasn’t officially requested a trade, but there is a sentiment around the league that he could look to move on this offseason. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater was asked about the Warriors as a possible destination for Lillard and said the Dubs have already had internal discussions about getting involved for his services.
Would the Warriors get involved? Yes. They’d make a call and have already internally discussed the idea, as I’m sure most contenders have, considering the rising smoke out of Portland.
Their theoretical offer would be competitive. If the Blazers decided to trade Lillard, a complete rebuild seems like the wisest path and there aren’t many better rebuilding trade packages dangling out there right now than James Wiseman, the seventh and 14th pick in the upcoming draft, plus more future firsts, attached to Andrew Wiggins as salary match filler. The Thunder and other teams may have a more appealing basket of picks, but why would they spend them on a star on the wrong side of 30?
Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA who has a career-scoring average of 24.2 points per game. Theoretically, the deal Slater proposes would work financially. Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman will make a little more than $40.2 million combined next season, while Lillard is due $39.3 million for the 2021-22 campaign.
The question becomes if the Trail Blazers would accept the two lottery picks, Wiseman and Wiggins, for Lillard. But, as Slater points out, there a few other teams who can offer up more future assets in terms of picks.
Another question is if the Warriors would be wise to sacrifice all of their assets to land Lillard, who turns 31 on Thursday. Curry, Thompson and Green are all over the age of 31, so this move would be made to maximize the short-term championship potential.
A backcourt of Curry and Lillard would be undersized and have some defensive issues, but they would easily be the best offensive guard duo in the NBA. The Warriors would certainly be a destination for free-agent veterans looking to capture a ring if they got Lillard, so they could add some defensive pieces on the open market.
Acquiring Lillard would give the Warriors some more time to let Thompson fully heal after missing two consecutive seasons with serious injuries. Thompson is likely to miss the beginning of next season while he rehabs and wouldn’t have the pressure to return if Lillard is on the roster.
It will be fascinating to see how this situation plays out. The Warriors could certainly try and balance their short and long-term needs by keeping the picks or try and go all into trying to win another championship or two in the coming years.
Would you be willing to trade the two picks, Wiseman and Wiggins, for Lillard? Or do you think the Warriors would be better suited to look elsewhere for a trade or keep both selections?