Damian Lillard is one of the NBA superstars who dream of competing in the NBA Finals and bringing home the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Portland Trail Blazers are currently on a five-game win streak, and reside in the third spot in the Western Conference. If they continue to establish an impressive performance, the Trail Blazers could finish the regular season strong and compete in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.
The real battle for Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers will start in the postseason where they will be competing against the “Super Teams” in the deep Western Conference. The Golden State Warriors remain the favorite to come out of the West, while the explosive backcourt of Chris Paul and James Harden is expected to make the Houston Rockets a tough team to beat in a best-of-seven series. Teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves will give headaches to any opposing teams, especially with the presence of multiple superstars on their roster.
The Trail Blazers are legitimate playoff contenders, but only a few people see them representing the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. Unlike other powerhouse teams, Portland only has Lillard and C.J. McCollum to carry the team. Before the February 8 trade deadline, Lillard requested a meeting to gain assurances that the team was devoted to building a title-contender, according to ESPN.
Unfortunately, the trade deadline passed with the Trail Blazers not making a significant change on their roster. If they fail to make a huge impact in the 2018 NBA playoffs, there is speculation that Damian Lillard could demand a trade, which is what Portland feared before the February 8 deadline.
The Cleveland Cavaliers could take advantage of the Trail Blazers’ situation. According to Nathan Beighle of King James Gospel, the Cavaliers may consider exploring a trade package centered on the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick for Damian Lillard.
“Lillard would virtually replace Kyrie Irving, who was traded this past offseason. Lillard, who averaged 2.7 threes per game for his career, is a bit better of an outside shooter than Irving, who averages 2.0 for his career.”
The Cavaliers have struggled since Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics. Though they acquired an All-Star point guard in return, Isaiah Thomas doesn’t seem to fit well playing alongside LeBron James. Since the offseason, rumors of James’ departure has been circulating in the league. However, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report believes the deals the Cavs made before the trade deadline helped them convince James to stay.
“The frenzy of deals the Cavs pulled off at the deadline added cash to their books, built a much more sensible on-court mix and, above all, showed James the organization remains serious about winning while he’s still in his prime.”
Instead of keeping the Nets’ pick to speed up the rebuilding process, the Cavaliers could use it to acquire a superstar like Damian Lillard. The 2018 NBA draft could be loaded with talented players. But what the Cavaliers need right now is someone who can contribute immediately and help James win more NBA championships.