No matter how many times the Trailblazers say they have no interest in trading Damian Lillard and undergoing a full-scale rebuild, rumors still continue to swirl around All-Star point guard's future with the team. With their failure to surround him with a title-contending team this summer, most people believe that it would only be a matter of time before Lillard follows in the footsteps of other superstars and starts finding his way out of Portland.
Pelicans Win Lillard Sweepstakes
Once he becomes officially available on the trading block, several teams will surely be lining up to get Lillard out of Portland. One of the young teams that could express a strong interest in acquiring Lillard is the New Orleans Pelicans. In a recent article, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report suggested a way on how the Pelicans would be able to win the Lillard sweepstakes before the 2022 NBA trade deadline.
In the proposed trade scenario, the Pelicans would be sending a package that includes Brandon Ingram, Devonte' Graham, Jaxson Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr., a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2025 first-round pick to the Trail Blazers in exchange for Lillard, Robert Covington, and Tony Snell.
Pairing Lillard With Zion Williamson
Lillard may not have shown a strong indication that he's no longer happy in Portland, but most NBA fans would definitely be thrilled to see him wearing the Pelicans' jersey this season. As Buckley noted, being traded to the Pelicans would allow Lillard to be paired with the "best co-star he's ever had" in his career.
"But a trip to the Big Easy would immediately team Lillard with the best co-star he's ever had in Zion Williamson, who isn't even 100 games into his NBA career and already looks unguardable," Buckley wrote. "Last season, both Lillard (third) and Williamson (eighth) ranked as top-10 scorers. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were the only teammates to both snag top-10 spots."
Lillard Improves Pelicans' Offense
Giving up Ingram and other precious assets for Lillard should be a no-brainer for the Pelicans, especially if they want to keep Williamson happy and become a more competitive team in the Western Conference. The successful acquisition of Lillard would help the Pelicans improve their offensive efficiency that currently ranks the third-worst in the league, scoring 98.6 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN.
Lillard would give the Pelicans one of the league's best clutch scorers, as well as an incredible playmaker and an elite three-point shooter.
Trail Blazers Rebuild
The suggested trade would also make a lot of sense for the Trail Blazers if Lillard is no longer interested in staying as the face of the franchise. By sending him to New Orleans, the Trail Blazers would be getting four young and promising talents in Ingram, Graham, Lewis Jr., and Hayes who could be part of their long-term plans, together with two future first-round picks.
With his huge superstar potential, the Pelicans could make Ingram the centerpiece of the next title-contending team that they will try to build in Portland.