With the NBA season over, this will be one of the most interesting off-seasons for the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers are in a cloud of questions. Where does Neil Olshey stand with the possibility of trading Dame? Does Dame really want out, or is he just being professional as always? The offseason starts with the future of Damian Lillard
Lillard is the face of the franchise and one of the (if not the best) point guards in the league. He changes the dynamic of any team instantly and has such a passion for winning that it bleeds through his words and actions any organization would crave. Does that passion continue with the Blazers next season, or is this a good time to get the maximum return on a Lillard trade?
The Blazers have brought in pieces what they thought would fit Lillard, including Lillard-minded forwards that shoot threes, bigs that can pick and roll and pass. Yet, there always seems to be a missing piece keeping the Blazers from being an elite team. After the Olympics, the Blazers need to sit down with Dame and see where his head is at. Does he want to continue to be a part of the organization, or does he want to move on and try his luck with another team?
Dame will never admit that he wants to be traded and has said that over and over and again. However, he has shown that he is upset that Portland can not win the big game. As a lifelong Blazers fan, I am used to the “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” expectation that the Blazers have given me. For Dame, who is an elite point guard in the prime of his career, who wants to lead a team to a championship, just making the playoffs every year is not enough. I say let the man go. He has brought great memories to the city of Portland that fans will never forget. It is the right time to say goodbye. Plus, the Blazers can get a waterfall of picks and young talent in return. Some of the teams that have expressed interest include the Knicks, Sixers, and Warriors.
From the Knicks, I can see the Blazers getting a package that includes RJ Barrett and three first-rounders. This gets the Blazers a young, up-and-coming player and three picks for the future. From the Sixers, Ben Simmons has been on the trading block for a while. Ben Simmons, along with three to four years of first-rounders, would need to be the package. I have heard Jordan Poole and others, along with a slew of draft picks for the Warriors. Overall, the Knicks package seems the best because the Blazers would be getting a future star in Barrett and draft picks. I think the Blazers could milk the Knicks out of the most because they have shown the most interest in Dame.
People will ask what to do with CJ and the rest of the team when Dame leaves. CJ is a competent scorer and leader. He can lead a new crop of young talent into the future. It is time for Rip City to move on with the franchise.
If Dame continues to play for Portland, the relationship will remain in a cloud of what-ifs. More importantly, do Blazer fans really think that the team can win it all with the roster they have now? If not, then why keep him? For what? Another late-round draft pick and more blood pressure medicine? It is time to rip off the Band-Aid, be hurt, and let Dame go live his best life. Get some good draft picks for the next few seasons and start with something new. Dame really gave the city of Portland and the Blazers great years of his life, and we are grateful. Now, it is time to make this trade while the iron is hot.