According to a new list of hypothetical trade suggestions, the Phoenix Suns could potentially end their lengthy playoff drought by acquiring Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard in a three-way deal that also involves the Golden State Warriors.
On Wednesday, Bleacher Report‘s Zach Buckley explained that the Suns came very close to qualifying for postseason play this season, despite shooting guard Devin Booker making his first All-Star team and Deandre Ayton continuing to develop in his second year after getting picked first overall in 2018. The team also finished with a perfect 8-0 record in the NBA’s Orlando bubble, but still fell short of qualifying for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Considering that Booker had previously been quoted as saying that he’s “done with not making the playoffs,” Buckley suggested a three-way trade that would send Lillard to Phoenix, with the Trail Blazers getting Ricky Rubio and Mikal Bridges from the Suns, and Alen Smailagic and Jordan Poole from the Warriors. Golden State, meanwhile, would receive Kelly Oubre Jr., who is currently the Suns’ starting small forward.
Several draft picks were also involved in the hypothetical deal, with Portland getting the Warriors’ No. 2 pick in 2020 and Phoenix’s first-round choices in 2022 and 2024, and the Warriors receiving the Suns’ No. 10 selection this year.
According to Buckley, the aforementioned transaction could give the Suns their own version of the Warriors’ All-Star backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
“Putting him in the same backcourt with Booker shouldn’t be legal. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s a hint of Splash Brothers 2.0 vibes, with a little less efficiency but more on-ball creativity. If Ayton surfaces as a third star and stops some of the inevitable defensive bleeding, the Suns are at least shadow contenders as soon as next season.”
Although Buckley noted that Portland likely won’t agree to part ways with their franchise point guard, he suggested that the team should at least consider making the move. He stressed that the Western Conference won’t be as deep as it usually is in 2020-21 and in the years to come, and since the Blazers likely won’t be favored to win a conference title anytime soon, it might be better to push the reset button while Lillard still has significant value as a trade asset.
With that in mind, the Bleacher Report writer added that the Blazers could benefit the most from the multiple first-round choices in the package, particularly this year’s No. 2 overall selection, and should also “see major potential” from the young players included in the deal, such as Bridges. He also speculated that Oubre could fulfill a need for the Warriors by giving them a quality wing player who could contribute on both ends.