Damian Lillard trade rumors have surfaced again as the Portland Trail Blazers look to improve the franchise before the February 23 NBA trade deadline. This is not something that fans of the Blazers are pleased to hear about, with many taking to social media to post about their disdain for these NBA rumors. Lillard has become one of the most popular Blazers players in recent history, despite the team struggling quite a bit over the past two seasons. Trading a fan favorite could come with its own set of consequences for the front office.
A recent report by the Oregonian suggested that just about everyone on the current Blazers roster could be getting “shopped” ahead of the NBA trade deadline. That includes guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, both of whom have become extremely important (and popular) components of the current team. At issue is the lack of success that the team has found during the past two NBA seasons, which in itself is a heavy hint that the front office needs to make additional moves. Writer John Canzano even suggested it would be a good move to trade Lillard.
“What are you waiting for? Lillard is a nice offensive player. He remains a defensive liability. Also, he doesn’t make players around him much better. Very good player, but not a great one. And so I’ve wondered as the Blazers played without him at times over the last couple of seasons if the team didn’t look better when he was absent.”
John Canzano isn’t providing fans with new information here, as anyone who has watched Portland Trail Blazers games over the past two NBA seasons knows how bad the team has been on defense. It starts with the guards, as both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are dominating on offense, but also have noticeable deficiencies on the defensive end of the floor. Without elite level rim protectors behind them, it often leads to a lot of easy baskets for opponents. Hence Blazers trade rumors linking the team to Hassan Whiteside and Andre Drummond.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Blazers just sent center Mason Plumlee to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for center Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. The trade didn’t receive a warm reception from fans on social media, as Plumlee had also become a fan favorite with his energy on the court. He too had a lot of weaknesses in his game that were taken advantage of by opposing coaches, so this move was to start breaking down the current roster in order to improve for the future.
These latest Damian Lillard trade rumors may have surfaced due to what the New Orleans Pelicans pulled off during the All-Star break. The Pelicans were able to acquire All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings, giving the team another big weapon in the low post. Though the Pelicans don’t currently have a good spot in the NBA playoff standings, the team may be able to easily catch the Blazers and Denver Nuggets in order to secure the No. 8 seed. An improved Pelicans roster is a bad thing for the Blazers, potentially taking away any shot at the postseason.
In 51 games this season, Damian Lillard is averaging 25.7 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game. Those might just be the best statistics that Lillard has had in his five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, but it has only helped the team post a 23-33 overall record. The Blazers are only two games back from the Denver Nuggets and a spot in the 2017 NBA Playoffs, but now they also have to deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. Can Lillard and McCollum put the team on their backs and carry them to a first-round series against the Golden State Warriors?
One of the reasons that Lillard and McCollum are coming up in NBA trade rumors is that they are both locked up in long-term contracts. Lillard is signed through the 2020-21 NBA season with escalating salaries over the next four years. This would give another franchise a lot of team control over him. Another reason their names are coming up is that the 2017 NBA Draft is very deep in guards, suggesting the Portland Trail Blazers could use a lottery pick to replace them on the roster. That might also be a reason to acquire more first-round picks before the deadline.
While there doesn’t appear to be a deal on the table for the Blazers to part with Lillard or McCollum right now, the team has been answering the phones about offers and has been listening to what the values of the players would be on the market. As the February 23 NBA trade deadline approaches, it wouldn’t take a lot of time for a deal to suddenly become plausible. This is what makes the latest Damian Lillard trade rumors so worrisome to fans, as the franchise could pull off a deal as surprising as the Mason Plumlee transaction.
[Featured Image by Steve Dykes/Getty Images]