Whenever a superstar player finds their name in commercial rumors, Boston Celtics fans will dream up scenarios to bring that player to Beantown. Players like Bradley Beal, James Harden and Damian Lillard have all been connected to the Celtics in one way or another over the past few seasons. Well, the latter of those three just made some very compelling remarks.
In a recent interview with CNBC’s Jabari Young, Lillard was once again asked about his future with the Portland Trail Blazers. And while he stated that he “has no plans to be a Portland Trail Blazer,” Lillard also dropped a catchy quote later in the interview:
If they come to me and they want to trade me – I won’t fight them over wanting to trade me. I don’t want to be anywhere I don’t want to be. But I don’t think so.
For the whole season, Lillard was preoccupied with whether or not he wanted to leave Portland. Given the Trail Blazers’ current state, most fans would love to see him “released” from Portland. But through it all, Lillard’s loyalty to Portland is clear. And despite the fact that he has said he wants to stay with the Trail Blazers, this quote suggests that a move is also out of the question.
Lillard connects with the Celtics
While Lillard’s name is splashed around in commercial rumours, the Celtics are often seen as a potential suitor. Many stores mocked the commercial idea that would bring Lillard to Boston. ESPN has drafted a deal ahead of time that will have AL Horford, Dennis Schroder, Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard, Juancho Hernangomez and a host of picks sent to Portland in exchange for Lillard and other role players.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer even reports that Lillard prefers to play with defensive flanks, and Jaylen Brown has been brought up as one of those names, according to his sources.
But perhaps the most intriguing report comes from Heavy.com’s Adam Taylor. A league executive told Heavy.com that Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens may be interested in a move to Lillard:
Brad has a soft spot for him, I know. He is a favorite of mine. Little college guy, what a hard worker. They have put themselves in a position to make such a move. They can build a pack around Derrick White and Marcus Smart, with Theis and Nesmith and a pick
The CEO also mentioned that Portland might be enticed by a Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and select package. But given how well the Celtics have played this season, they may not be in the market to make a big splash.
Lillard’s Fit With Celtics
Given the current defensive formations that Celtics head coach Ime Udoka operates, Lillard’s suitability in Boston may be questioned. Unlike Smart and White, Lillard will have a hard time playing in the Celtics’ switch-everything defense. The 6’2 point guard has never been a great defender.
That being said, Lillard will give the Celtics a huge boost towards the offensive end. Setting the shot style around Jayson Tatum and Brown would take a lot of pressure off the young Boston duo. In addition, with the number of excellent defenders that the Celtics already have, they can cover quite well the shortcomings in Lillard’s defence.
However, the biggest factor to consider in a potential Lillard deal is money. Lillard will be on the books through the end of the 2024-25 season, and in the final year of his contract, he’ll make around $48.8 million at that point. At that time, the point guard will be almost 35 years old.
If Boston decides to trigger the Lillard trade, it could destroy the defensive wall they’ve built. At the same time, though, it will give them one of the NBA’s best Big 3s.
https://heavy.com/sports/boston-celtics/damian-lillard-nba-trade-rumors-offseason/ Celtics commercial target Damian Lillard open to move this season