Damian Lillard wants to stay and win in Portland. The Trail Blazers front office is committed to building this winner around him. It’s not the sexy transactional story everyone wants, but it’s what league sources have consistently told NBC Sports (and has been reported elsewhere) for over a year. While Lillard’s trading talks have grown in popularity, until Lillard demanded it, it was nothing more than a combination of wishful thinking and clickbait speculation.
The dream scenario for the Trail Blazers? Trade the No. 3 pick – which likely means the rights to Scoot Henderson – and a player like Anfernee Simons for another star, which Kevin O’Conner told The Ringer.
My league sources say Portland’s interest in building around Lillard is genuine. The front office is exploring offers for the no. 3 picks, and he’s also open to moving Anfernee Simons. Jaylen Brown, Pascal Siakam or Mikal Bridges would make sense as potential targets via trade, but it’s unclear what level of appetite the Blazers have for that type of trade. Come draft night, they might just choose.
The question is, would the No. 3 pick and Simons be enough to land a star? It depends on how a team rates Henderson, who looked like a No. 2 lock pick six months ago but is now likely to go No. 3 – with Charlotte taking Brandon Miller at No. 2 – and he there’s buzz Henderson could go deeper than that. In the case of Brooklyn GM Sean Marks, would the No. 3 pick and Simons be enough to drop Mikal Bridges? Marks already knows that Bridges is very good, is Henderson’s advantage worth it? Portland may think they should get more back in this deal, but if a team isn’t high on Henderson, their leverage slips.
Portland’s rebuild around Lillard’s plans includes the re-signing of Jerami Grant, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
Although the franchise and the superstar appear to be prioritizing building a genuine playoff contender around Lillard, with plans underway to re-sign forward Jerami Grant as well, sources said.
Plan A and Plan B in Portland is to retool a playoff-contending team around Lillard. That may not be what fans outside of the Pacific Northwest or other front offices want to hear, but league sources NBC Sports spoke with were consistent.
If Portland can’t trade the pick and select Henderson (or whoever it is), maybe the conversation will start to change. But only Lillard will decide if Lillard leaves the Trail Blazers.
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Trail Blazers hope to trade No. 3 pick Simons for star, want to re-sign Grant originally appeared on NBCSports.com