Portland Trail Blazers are hiring a new head coach this season. After parting ways with Terry Stotts last week Whether or not the franchise has made other big changes after being eliminated in the first round of Western Conference Playoffs, All-Star pillar Damian Lillard is under contract in Portland for the next four seasons. But also expressed frustration with Portland’s inability to beat the hump in the postseason after a second first-round exit at the age of 30.
with Portland̵7;s limited approach to improving Lillard’s supporting cast (no room for Limited draft selection It was speculated for the first time that the six-time All-Star would drive a fresh start somewhere if the Blazers. Unable to show meaningful improvements in the coming months or years
If that situation occurs The Celtics will also be among the many teams that want to take part in the auction. What might a commercial offer from Boston look like? And how does it compare to other rumored suitors in the league? Let’s break down the possibilities for the scenario:
Damian Lillard is currently under contract throughout the 2024-25-25 season. He signed a supermax extension with Portland in the summer of 2019, which includes a $54 million player option for the 2024-25-25 official extension. Starting this summer, Lillard’s base salary has soared from $31 million to $43.8 million, adding $3.5 million per year for each year of the deal thereafter.
2020-21: $31.6 million
2021-22: $43.75 million
2022-23: $47.25 million
2023-24: $50.75 million
2024-25: $54.25 million (player choice)
A move for Lillard in the Portland trade will be much easier to do early this summer, before free agency visits, as it will allow the team to move him with a 2020-21 salary ($31.6 million) for a move. Trade, however, unless Lillard suddenly changes his mind about his commitment to Portland this summer. It seems unlikely that he will request a move anytime soon.
For that reason, let’s say Lillard’s first realistic decision to leave was during the 2021-22 season. At that point, Lillard would make $43.75 million, and that would allow any partner to send $35 million in cash. Portland deal to make math work under NBA trade rules
What is a realistic proposition from the Celtics?
both from a talent and from a salary perspective A realistic offer for Lillard must start with Jaylen Brown for Boston, regardless of whether the Celtics are willing to put the 24-year-old Brown on the table for the 30-year-old Lillard, who owes nearly $200 million. Whether or not dollars in the next few years is not an easy question for Brad Stevens to answer. Lillard has been the top 15 player in the NBA for the past two seasons. But his high salary and age might put some organizations on pause. Especially with the history of teams with high experience card points. Team injuries in the past 5 years
For the sake of this exercise Assuming the Celtics are willing to consider Brown’s deal, Lillard might be considered more appropriate with Tatum from an offensive standpoint and with enough key moments remaining to help the Celtics make noise in the Eastern Conference. with an updated supporting cast around that pair.
Brown earned $26.8 million in salary for the 2021-22 season, so the Celtics will have to combine additional salaries to keep the math to work in exchange for land Lillard Tristan Thompson ($9.7 million) takes Boston there. But that’s the best trade-neutral asset for Boston, which Portland might not care if it goes on a new path. (Attaching a protected option can help here.) Marcus Smart ($14.3 million) will allow salaries to match. But that’s a player the Celtics might want to keep for defensive purposes if they pursue their first star, Lillard, for the backcourt.
Moreover? There are limited options on the rest of the roster to earn up to the $35 million threshold Romeo Langford, Rob Williams, Aaron Naismith, Grant William. s and Peyton Pritchard earn between $2-4 million. These three plus Brown will make the math work. but also hurt the depths of Boston’s bench in the process. Moving Thompson and Brown would be the easiest way to make money.
Other potential spouses
Stephen A Smith of ESPN.com last week said a ‘7’ team could join Lillard if he’s available, which includes the Knicks, Heat, Clippers and Lakers. Brown could be the best player by trade at the moment. who made a friendly agreement with the team (Under contract until 2024) if the Blazers are willing to accept an offer from Lillard.
Lack of interesting assets when looking elsewhere New York will be able to offer RJ Barrett on a rookie deal and have the remaining first-round qualifying from Dallas after dealing with Kristaps Porzingis. Heat could place Tyler. Hero can put it on the table. But it lacks substantial first-round draft funding until the end of this decade. The Lakers don’t have much of a young talent outside of Talen. Horton-Tucker which is a backup and exchanged large sums of capital to Anthony. Davis two summers ago. meanwhile The Clippers have paid all the cash to Paul George all the draft picks. Unless they exchanged superstars for both of them. They will not have the property to match Boston’s offer, including Brown. It seems to make Boston and New York the best teams to offer the best for the Blazers.
Needless to say There won’t be room for Kemba Walker on Boston’s roster if they are to run for another All-Star’s Point Guard in Lillard. It’s also fair to conclude that the Blazers don’t want Walker to be part of the deal in the situation. that Because his peak attack for the next two years will limit the possibility of a free agent for Portland. Should they choose to start over, The Blazers have no long-term deals on their books outside of Lillard, and CJ McCollum and Lillard’s backcourt partner may pull a solid trade value on his own rather than being included in the deal. Blockbuster with Lillard for Walker, Brown, etc. Celtics assets.
So if Lillard is available through trade Presumably, the Celtics will have to move Walker on a separate deal to clear some salaries and a starting point for Lillard, finding a rebuilding team willing to swallow bad contracts for some of its draft assets, or those likely to be. The youngsters (Orlando, Oklahoma City) might be Boston’s best bet in that aspect, however, there’s no landing spot for a suitable walker with the Celtics, any deal for Lillard will be lost. fast possibility
The odds are still tight for a blockbuster deal like this one to come. Lillard hasn’t given any clear signs that he wants to leave, and although he does. The Celtics, not putting Brown on the table in any offers, would be a very defensive position, however, should the Celtics want to push their timeline closer to the present for the competition. Playing like Lillard might offer the best chance of doing just that and creating a 1-2 against Jayson Tatum.
The risks were enormous given Lillard’s age and his enormous salary. This will limit the option to fill out the remaining roster for the next four to five years. However, eliminating the risk of flying with Lillard could also be an appeal for Boston. After three former All-Stars walked away from free agency over the past three summers, Can the Celtics maneuver their roster after acquiring Lillard to make room for a third star in 2023, a free agency to pair with Lillard and Tatum? Or is following that path causing the team to lose too much depth and draft picks to clear the necessary caps?
There will be a long list of obstacles to pursue. But when given the talent at the top of the east This is the type of situation that Brad Stevens and the Celtics should explore. In case the opportunity comes next year.