NBA Draft rumors: Potential Damian Lillard trade to Magic
The Portland Trail Blazers are widely expected to build around Damian Lillard this summer, but life can change in an instant in the NBA. Lillard is 32 years old; Portland’s other core pieces, Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe, are 23 and 20 years old, respectively. The Blazers are a young team clinging to a brilliant but aging star. At some point the front office has to consider hitting the reset button.
Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley recently dropped a slate of hypothetical trades, one of which involves Lillard being sent to the Orlando Magic for a juicy return.
Portland Trail Blazers receive: Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac, No. 6 pick, No. 11 pick and 2025 first-round pick (top-three protected)
Orlando Magic receive: Damian Lillard
Orlando is currently in possession of two lottery picks, not to mention one of the best young cores in the NBA. With Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner already knocking on stardom’s door, there’s logic in pursuing a big-swing trade of this nature. Lillard can vault Orlando into contention right away. Meanwhile, Banchero and Wagner will continue to develop and evolve over time. It’s like an actually successful version of the Warriors’ whole “two timelines” venture.
The Blazers get two lottery picks and another future first to kickstart their retool. Markelle Fultz would join Anfernee Simons in the backcourt (as well as Portland’s pick at No. 3, be it Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller or Amen Thompson). Fultz’s ability to create for others pairs nicely with Simons’ dynamic perimeter shooting and scoring repertoire. Jonathan Isaac is mostly salary filler, but he was a burgeoning DPOY candidate in the not so distant past. Injuries have dragged his career to a screeching halt in recent years, but there’s still lingering upside.
Portland would have to be absolutely convinced of the quality of players available at No. 6 and No. 11 — and, frankly, Orlando would still probably have to include more given the rising price of superstars on the trade market. The Magic are taking a calculated risk, but Lillard is probably worth it. The East, as we learned quite well this postseason, is there for the taking.