Sixers: Pros and cons of trading for Damian Lillard

Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 3
Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

For the past eight years, Damian Lillard has been playing at an All-Star level, having made 6 All-Star games and arguably being snubbed in two years. Over the past two years, Lillard has been in MVP conversation due to his ability to carry his team and his trademark “Dame Time,” when he takes over in the fourth quarter. However, Lillard’s Blazers have never been able to get over the hump and into the true contenders’ category with the team’s highest regular-season finish being the third seed and his best playoff run ending in the western conference finals. While their conference finals run seemed to be a sign of good things to come, since that season, the Blazers have had difficult regular seasons and early exits from the playoffs, being eliminated in the first round in two consecutive seasons.

The Blazers now find themselves in a pivotal transitional point with the team firing their long time coach Terry Stotts, and if the team decides to go into a full rebuild, the first thing that they would do is trade Damian Lillard. The Sixers may try to seize this opportunity as they did with James Harden in order to bring in a superstar-level point guard onto the team.

This hypothetical trade between the Blazers and the Sixers would undoubtedly look very similar to the situation earlier this season when the Sixers almost traded a package centered around Ben Simmons to acquire Harden from the Houston Rockets. The final package that was reported to have been offered to the Rockets was Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, and draft compensation — most likely including several first-round picks. A package similar to the one offered to the Rockets for Harden is likely to be offered in any potential Lillard trade.

The package that ultimately landed Brooklyn with Harden, however, included three unprotected first-round picks, the right to swap four first-round picks, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and Taurean Prince. Though the Nets seem to be in a good place to win a title this year, if for some reason they don’t, they should be expecting a bleak future. While this hypothetical Sixers-Blazers trade is similar in many ways to the Nets-Rockets trade, in some ways it is very different.

The biggest difference being that Harden had three years remaining on his current contract including a player option for the final year while Lillard, if he is traded this offseason, will have four seasons left in his contract with no player option. With Lillard being slightly younger than Harden, the extra year may be an upside rather than a liability.

Another difference is the injury history of Lillard, who has suffered fewer injuries than Harden. Leading up to this season, Lillard and Harden have both been relatively healthy and have participated in a similar number of games per season. This season, however, Harden missed a significantly greater number of games compared to Lillard and has also missed games in the playoffs with his lingering hamstring injury.