NBA Rumors: Damian Lillard Key To LA Lakers' Second Championship In LeBron James Era

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JB Baruelo

After suffering a first-round playoff exit last season, the Los Angeles Lakers became more aggressive in finding their third star last summer. A few days after the 2021 NBA Draft, the Lakers have accomplished their major offseason goal after acquiring All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. After forming a "Big Three" of Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis, they immediately became one of the heavy favorites to win the NBA championship title in the 2021-22 NBA season.

Unfortunately, the Lakers have failed to live up to expectations from a legitimate title contender as Westbrook struggles to make himself fit alongside James and Davis.

Lakers Should Swap Russell Westbrook For Damian Lillard

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If they won't show massive improvement with their performance at the end of the first half of the season, some people believe that the Lakers may consider trading Westbrook again before the 2022 NBA trade deadline. One of the dream trade targets for the Lakers in the potential deal involving Westbrook is All-Star point guard Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. Compared to Westbrook, Zane Harris of Fansided's Lake Show Life_ believes that trading for Lillard would give the Purple and Gold a better chance of winning their second championship in the LeBron era.

"While this would be a move that would cause a lot of controversy, it would almost certainly guarantee the Lakers bringing home their second championship of the LeBron James era," Harris wrote. "It goes without saying what all Dame would bring to this team."

Potential Trade Package To Acquire Damian Lillard

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Trading for a player of Lillard's caliber won't be cheap. Though they are both All-Stars, it is highly unlikely that the Trail Blazers would agree to straight swap Lillard for Westbrook. In the proposed trade scenario by Fansided's Lake Show Life, the Lakers would be sending Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, a 2025 first-round pick, a 2027 first-round pick, and two 2023 second-round picks to the Trail Blazers in exchange for Lillard.

If the suggested offer is still not enough for the Trail Blazers, the Lakers may also have to include Talen Horton-Tucker in the trade package.

Damian Lillard A Massive Upgrade Over Russell Westbrook

Lillard may have struggled earlier in the 2021-22 NBA season, but he would still be an incredible acquisition for the Lakers. His potential arrival in Los Angeles would tremendously improve the Lakers' performance on the offensive end of the floor. He would give them one of the league's best clutch scorers, as well as an incredible playmaker and an elite three-point shooter.

This season, Lillard is averaging 21.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 7.8 assists while shooting 39.7 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN.

Lakers Actively Recruiting Damian Lillard Since Last Summer

With their current situation, it won't be a surprise if the Lakers are still closely monitoring Lillard's situation in Portland. The Lakers have been actively recruiting Lillard since the 2021 NBA offseason. Before the Lakers engaged in a blockbuster deal with the Wizards to acquire Westbrook, Lillard confirmed in an interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that James and Davis invited him to have lunch in LeBron's mansion.

Lillard may have initially told James and Davis that he has no interest in forming a superteam, but there's a huge possibility for him to change his mind if the Trail Blazers suffer another disappointing season.