Damian Lillard
NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 6: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots a free throw during the game against the New York Knicks on February 6, 2021, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s no secret that Damian Lillard MAY want out of Portland. Over the past few years, the Trailblazers front office has struggled to put the pieces around him to compete. Now, it appears as if Lillard’s loyalty to the team that drafted him has almost run out. Thus, let the trade rumors and jersey swaps on NBA Twitter commence. Of the teams that have enough assets to trade for a superstar of his magnitude, the New York Knicks may have the most to offer.

With 5 first-round picks in the next 3 years and promising young players, the Knicks could realistically give Portland a good return. It has also been reported that there’s mutual interest between New York and Lillard. So, it’s not a matter of whether they can, it’s a matter of IF they should make this move.

Credit: SNY

Giving up Future vs. Competing Now

Any team that acquires Lillard would immediately become a competitor in its respective conference. But the question these teams need to ask themselves is if adding him would be enough to win a title. The Knicks have Julius Randle, a 2nd Team All-NBA player, and had one of the top benches in this year’s playoffs. However, making a move for Lillard would require giving up all the depth that they have. According to SNY, this is what a potential New York-Portland trade would look like.

I don’t think any reasonable Knicks fan in the world should support a deal like this. This sacrifices their entire future in order to become at least slightly relevant with Damian Lillard and Julius Randle. Anyone who thinks that duo could even compete with the Brooklyn Nets doesn’t know basketball.

Leon Rose and company shouldn’t and probably wouldn’t even consider any deal with R.J. Barrett included in it. An acceptable offer, I think, would be to substitute Mitchell Robinson in for R.J. And even then, I wouldn’t make that deal unless I knew for sure that the Knicks would be able to get Kawhi Leonard in free agency. Dame’s unhappiness, unfortunately, came at the wrong time for New York with such a poor free agency class. With that being said, there’s not much they can do at the moment to give the top teams in the league a run at their money.

Knicks Can’t Make the Same Mistake

Making such a blockbuster deal when they’re in the best position they’ve been in in years would be a huge mistake. It would be the Carmelo Anthony trade 2.0. How’d that one work out?

I really don’t think that this Knicks’ front office is stupid enough to make this deal. They’ve made smart move after smart move, carefully calculating the team’s return to relevancy. Now that they’ve been able to return a respectable culture to the organization, they should continue on this path of rebuilding. With the free agency class of 2022, New York will be able to add the superstar they so desperately desire without giving up their entire bench. This will be entirely possible if they can replicate the season they had this year in 2021-22.

Patience is the name of the game right now for the New York Knicks. Hopefully, they understand that no successful teams in the NBA have been able to COMPLETELY build a contender through trades as of late. They should keep this in mind while they’re considering trading for Damian Lillard this offseason.

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