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Damian Lillard Trade Rumors: Knicks Likeliest Destination if Blazers Make G Available

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 27, 2021

AP Photo/John Locher

If the Portland Trail Blazers trade Damian Lillard, the New York Knicks will reportedly be waiting.

According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, "the Knicks continue to be cited in league circles as perhaps the most likely destination" for Lillard if the Trail Blazers make him available.

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop initially reported July 16 that the point guard planned to ask for a trade, but Lillard later denied that and said he expects to remain in Portland.

"I woke up to those reports, a lot of people reaching out to me," Lillard said. "But it's not true. I'll start off the rip and say it's not true. A lot of things are being said. It hasn't come from me. I haven't made any firm decision on what my future will be."

Teams will remain interested in Lillard considering his impact as a six-time All-Star and one of the best offensive players in the NBA. The 31-year-old continues to raise his game, averaging 29.4 points and 7.8 assists per contest over the last two seasons.

Portland hasn't had much to show for this production, losing in the first round of the playoffs in back-to-back years.

A coaching change from Terry Stotts to Chauncey Billups this offseason might help, but Lillard could be looking for a fresh start despite four years remaining (2024-25 player option) on his contract.

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New York would be an exciting landing spot after earning the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Though the Knicks would have to give up a lot in a trade, they do have quality building blocks in RJ Barrett and 2020-21 Most Improved Player Julius Randle. Adding Lillard could be enough to make this team a contender in the East.

The Knicks also own the most projected practical cap space in the NBA, per Spotrac, meaning they have the ability to take on Lillard's $39.3 million salary for next season.

The front office knows Lillard can help generate even more excitement at Madison Square Garden. The guard would be the biggest name to join the team since Carmelo Anthony in February 2011. 

New York will first have to convince Portland to part with its superstar who has been the face of the franchise since being drafted in 2012.

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