Damian Lillard and his trade request have been the talk of the NBA offseason so far. The seven-time All-NBA guard has made it known that he’d like to play elsewhere (Miami and only Miami or he won’t play, he swears) next season, after 11 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite Lillard’s desire to take his talents to South Beach, there has been plenty of speculation that the Boston Celtics could get in on the fun, perhaps by trading Jaylen Brown to Portland.
However, Brown may not actually have to included in the hypothetical trade that would land the Celtics the disgruntled star guard. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix floated the possibility of a world where Boston lands Lillard and is able to keep Brown and Jayson Tatum.
“I think you can get Lillard without Jaylen Brown,” said Mannix during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich. “There’s a version of this story where Lillard could wind up in Boston and the Celtics wouldn’t have to give up Jaylen Brown. I mean, they’d have to give up basically everything else, whether it’s Robert Williams, Derrick White (and) every draft pick they’ve got over the next six years.”
Should the Boston Celtics trade ‘basically everything for Damian Lillard?
No, probably not, right?
The argument against gutting the Boston Celtics’ depth in order to land Lillard is the same as the one against trading Brown for him. Age and money both play a massive role in the decision regarding a move for the Blazers’ all-time leading scorer.
If Boston was to make a deal to bring in Lillard, they’d be paying him for a while, as he’s contract through the 2026-27 season– a year where he’d be making $63 million at age 36, per Spotrac. If they were to ship out the majority of their depth, plus some draft picks, they’d have a very hard time filling the rest of the roster — assuming Brown, Tatum, and Lillard would all be on max deals under the new CBA.
On top of that, the 32-year-old Lillard is only six-foot-two, which — at the very least — could lead to opponents to target him on the defensive end. Add on the fact that he relies on his athleticism quite a bit, as he needs his quick burst to create shots and get to the rim, and his age becomes a massive issue. Athleticism goes away over time, and when Lillard eventually begins to slow down, he’ll have to alter his playstyle quite a bit.
On the other hand, the move works pretty well from a “win now” standpoint.
Last season, Lillard was named to his seventh NBA All-Star team. He averaged 32.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 46.3% from the field and 37.2% from beyond the arc. There’s no denying that those numbers are impressive.
If the Celtics were to go all-in and finalize a deal to send Lillard to Boston, they’d be landing a legitimate scorer, whose quickness and ability to create shots could help to add more firepower to an offense that got a bit stale at times in the playoffs.
Final grade for Boston Celtics trade for Damian Lillard: B+
This idea isn’t the worst. Again, it makes sense for a team that may feel pressure to win a championship this season.
If the Boston Celtics were somehow able to add Lillard without losing Brown, they’d be able to roll out a starting lineup containing four All-Star-level players.
The reasons why this idea doesn’t get an “A” is because of the timing, as well as the aforementioned risk. This deal would’ve been fantastic if it’d gotten done prior to the free agent period.
Players could’ve been persuaded to join a star-studded Celtics roster for lower salaries, in hopes of winning a championship. Now that the market has dried up a bit, it’d be tough to land a solid supporting cast.
For more on a potential Lillard to Boston move, listen as CelticsBlog’s Jack Simone and I discuss the idea of a blockbuster trade for the aging guard.