Knicks Trade Rumors: Damian Lillard Targeted; NY 'Ready to Pounce' in Offseason

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 1, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) in action as the Portland Trail Blazers played the Indiana Pacers in an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AJ MAST/Associated Press

The New York Knicks are "ready to pounce" if the Portland Trail Blazers make six-time All-Star point guard Damian Lillard available via trade this offseason, per Marc Berman of the New York Post.

"The Knicks are gearing up to be heavy hitters either on the trade market or in free agency this summer—with point guard their top priority—and they have their antennae up regarding the status" of Lillard, Berman added.

The 30-year-old has spent his entire nine-year career in Portland after going No. 6 overall in the 2012 NBA draft out of Weber State. Portland has made the playoffs in all but one of his seasons, including a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2019.

The sharpshooter has averaged 28.3 points, 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game this year for the Blazers, who sit seventh in the Western Conference with a 35-28 record.

Lillard is under contract through 2024 with a player option in 2024-25, so he'd have to be acquired via trade. But it takes two to tango, and Lillard has made it abundantly clear numerous times that he wants to remain in Portland. 

"I want to see it through here," Lillard said in a March interview with Fred Katz and Jason Quick of The Athletic. "And I want to see it through here more than I care to go somewhere else and just win it, period, you know?"

He added: "Right now in the league you see a lot of guys going to teams where they are playing with one or two other All-Star-level players, because that's what they feel is best for them. And I'm not mad at it at all...to me, that ain't my style."

Lillard stressed his loyalty in an NBA era when star players have routinely joined together to make championship runs in comments from late March:

Hoop Central @TheHoopCentral

“My loyalty is my biggest flaw...I’m too solid for this weird a*s era.” - Damian Lillard on IG. ✊ (h/t @ClutchPointsApp) https://t.co/khdBz7NbXm

The caveat here is that Lillard doesn't have a no-trade clause, so if the Blazers decide to blow up their roster and rebuild, the point guard could hypothetically head elsewhere.

But letting go of Lillard, who is building a Hall of Fame resume, doesn't seem like the wisest of moves right now considering his age (30) and production.

The Knicks (and many other teams) could certainly use Lillard, and New York has made a giant leap forward this year from perennial loser to top-four Eastern Conference contender. Adding a player like Lillard could make the Knicks instant Eastern Conference title contenders.

As of now, though, a Lillard-Knicks pairing would appear to be a distant pipe dream at best.