The arrival of LeBron James has turned the Los Angeles Lakers from a rebuilding team to a legitimate playoff contender in the deep Western Conference. However, despite being widely considered as the best basketball player on the planet, James, alone, can’t instantly put the Lakers on the level of powerhouse teams like the Houston Rockets and the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors.
After acquiring LeBron James, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka made it clear that they are not done yet in upgrading their roster. The Lakers purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019. Also, they currently have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal before the February NBA trade deadline.
If they struggle earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, LeBron James could urge the Lakers to trade for another superstar. One of their potential trade targets is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. In an appearance on The Ringer podcast, NBA analyst Kevin O’Connor revealed that James is interested in playing with Lillard.
“LeBron wants to play with Damian Lillard,” O’Connor said, as transcribed by Fadeaway World. “He’s one of the guys he’d like to play with and that’s chatter around the league. It has been since before LeBron signed with the Lakers, it was one of the many indicators that he was heading there.”
— AFP Sport (@AFP_Sport) October 19, 2018
It’s not a surprise why LeBron James wants Damian Lillard on his team. In his previous stints with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, James has a superstar guard on his side to help him compete for the NBA championship title. Pairing James with Lillard will undeniably boost the Lakers’ chance of challenging the Warriors for the Western Conference supremacy. Lillard will give the Lakers a very reliable scoring option next to James and someone they can trust the ball in crucial situations.
If “King James” requests it, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka will definitely find a way to acquire Damian Lillard from the Trail Blazers, even if it means sacrificing their young players like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball. However, as of now, the Trail Blazers have not shown any indication that they are planning to make Lillard available on the trading block. Lillard recently led the Trail Blazers in their first win of the 2018-19 NBA season against the Lakers, finishing with 28 points, six rebounds, and four assists on 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.