Report: Portland Trail Blazers dangling No. 23 pick in hopes of finding help for Damian Lillard

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Damian Lillard’s uncertain status, the Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly open to dealing both of their top two picks in an effort to build around the veteran superstar.

Lillard has been the focus of plenty of trade talk for the past few years, with the Trail Blazers’ recent struggles hinting at a possible rebuilding effort.

Those struggles include two seasons below .500 under head coach Chauncey Billups. In the 2021-22 season, the Trail Blazers finished 27-55 and then improved by only six games this past season.

Dealing away a player of Lillard’s caliber would seemingly bring plenty in return for the Trail Blazers, with the Miami Heat one possible trade option. The Heat’s apparent pursuit of Lillard likely became more focused on Sunday after a Washington Wizards-Phoenix Suns trade for Bradley Beal was agreed upon.

One reason why the Trail Blazers are apparently prepared to build around Lillard is because the future Hall of Famer has spent his entire career with the Trail Blazers.

Lillard was taken with the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. Over the course of his 11 seasons in the league, Lillard has consistently produced on the court.

This past season, Lillard averaged 32.2 points, 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game, a clear sign that he’s nowhere near the end of his career.

Lillard, who turns 33 next month, has had some injury issues in recent years. During the 2022-23 campaign, he played in only 58 contests, one season after he saw action in only 29 games because of an abdominal injury.

As noted by Barry Jackson, a columnist for the Miami Herald, the Trail Blazers would be in a position to get plenty of talent for the third overall pick in Thursday’s draft.

The other first-round pick would not bring as much in return to the Trail Blazers. Yet, the message the Trail Blazers seem to be sending both Lillard and the rest of the NBA is that any offers will require some top talent.

Whether that entices the Heat (or any other team) to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal is something that remains uncertain. In the end, Lillard may end up staying with the only NBA team he’s ever known.

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Brad has written on a variety of both NBA and NFL topics and has worked previously as a sports information director at the collegiate level. A lifetime fan of sports, he's witnessed countless great moments in different sports and understands that stories can be compelling from both the perspective of winners and losers. As a frustrated fan of Cleveland sports, he experienced something unprecedented when the Cavaliers won the city's first championship in 52 years.