Knicks Trade Rumors: Damian Lillard 'Has Eyes' on NY, More Teams if Dealt

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 16, 2021

PORTLAND, OREGON - JUNE 03: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts after his three point basket in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets during Round 1, Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Moda Center on June 03, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard reportedly "has his eyes on" the New York Knicks if he's traded during the 2021 NBA offseason.

Grant Afseth of Sports Illustrated provided word of Lillard's interest in the Knicks on Friday after TrueHoop's Henry Abbott reported the 31-year-old star is going to request a trade out of Portland "in the days to come."

Although the speculation about the six-time All-Star is in its early stages and New York would surely face considerable competition if the standout guard does become available for trade, Lillard represents exactly what the Knicks have been missing since the days of Stephon Marbury: a true franchise point guard.

The Knicks made significant strides during the 2020-21 season, posting a 41-31 record to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Derrick Rose played well as a short-term option at the point, and forward Julius Randle handled a lot of playmaking responsibility, but the void remained in the bigger picture.

Lillard would not only fill that longstanding hole on the roster, but alongside Randle, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Mitchell Robinson, he would also make the Knicks a budding threat in the Eastern Conference, though some of the young players would likely be involved in the discussions with Portland.

The Weber State product averaged 28.8 points, which ranked third in the NBA, along with 7.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 4.1 threes across 67 games for the Blazers during the 2020-21 campaign. He finished seventh in MVP voting.

It's not the first time the Californian has been linked to a trade to the Knicks.

In June 2020, he told Lisa Robinson of Vanity Fair he thought he was heading to New York a couple years ago and professed his love for Madison Square Garden, the team's home arena.

"I thought I was headed there a few years ago; I was hearing trade rumors," Lillard said. "The Garden is my favorite place to play."

The Blazers would hold most of the leverage in trade talks, though. Lillard is just getting set to start a four-year, $176.3 million contract, which includes three guaranteed seasons and a player option, so he's linked to Portland at least through the 2023-24 campaign.

For now, Lillard is heading to Tokyo with Team USA for the Summer Olympics, so it's unlikely any significant developments occur until he returns in mid-August.