5 players Blazers could acquire in Lillard deal to stay competitive

Damian Lillard, Jaylen Brown (Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Damian Lillard, Jaylen Brown (Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /
1 of 5
Tobias Harris (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Tobias Harris (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers are expected to pursue a star-level return for Damain Lillard — perhaps with the goal of staying in contention. Who can they realistically acquire? 

Damian Lillard’s trade request was awkwardly timed, if not particularly surprising. The Blazers have plenty of young players to anchor their rebuild, starting with No. 3 pick Scoot Henderson. But, Portland also agreed to terms with Jerami Grant on a new five-year, $160 million contract.

So, what is the path forward? Is it a simple rebuild with Grant putting up numbers and chaperoning the locker room, or does Portland want to keep their hat in the ring post-Lillard?

Joe Cronin and the Blazers’ front office are expected to scour the league for the best available return. There could be mild trepidation tied to Lillard’s age, injury history, and contract length, but he’s a top-15 player who should return a significant asset haul.

If Portland wants to keep winning games — and frankly, Henderson will probably be good enough to lead a winning team sooner than later — here are five players the Blazers could realistically target in a Lillard deal.

No. 5 player Blazers could acquire in Lillard trade: Tobias Harris

Not the most exciting name, but Tobias Harris is a productive complementary “star” who can scale up to fill a bigger scoring role when asked to. He was once the best player on a Clippers team that made the playoffs, and Portland probably wouldn’t complain about 20 points per game with Harris’ trademark efficiency.

The fit between Harris and Grant in the frontcourt is slightly unbalanced, but Harris has made significant strides on the defensive end in recent years. He’s comfortable checking volume scorers on the wing and Grant is more than capable of locking up smaller players, so the defense shouldn’t end up being too grave a concern.

On the offensive end, Harris is at his best when empowered to shoot spot-up 3s and make quick decisions with the ball. He has a bad tendency to record-scratch on the catch and he can over-dribble when asked to create, but the Blazers would surround him with multiple high-level playmakers and another self-creating forward in Grant. Ideally, Harris wouldn’t be burdened with too much responsibility.

He would be part of a much larger package, of course, and Harris is only on the books for one more season. The lack of long-term commitment (at least at his current price point) should be viewed favorably by the Blazers, who will want the flexibility to pivot elsewhere post-Lillard.