NBA Rumors: 3 potential mystery suitors for Damian Lillard

A 'mystery Eastern Conference team' has made overtures in the Damian Lillard trade sweepstakes. Let's put on our detective hats and guess who it might be.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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No. 1 mystery Damian Lillard suitor: New York Knicks

The New York Knicks squeaked into the James Harden rumor mill before Philadelphia closed the phone lines. Maybe Leon Rose dialed up Portland instead of hanging up the phone. The Knicks are notorious star-hunters with a big market to back up their aspirations. Lillard would certainly elate the packed crowds in MSG.

New York made it to the second round of the playoffs despite severe offensive limitations and a head coach with a spotty postseason track record. Jalen Brunson was a sensation, tearing up the Cleveland Cavaliers' defense before giving the Heat an honest run for their money in the conference semis. His poise and shot-making craft form the bedrock of New York's competitive dreams.

It's fair to wonder if pairing two small guards who are limited defenders is the best route to contention, but Lillard and Brunson would wreak havoc on Eastern Conference defenses all season. Brunson loves to operate in the paint and create out of isos, but he also spent the early portion of his career playing off of Luka Doncic. He knows how to operate as a spacer and off-ball slasher. Meanwhile, Lillard would benefit from another high-level creator as he begins to age into the twilight of his career.

The Knicks can feasibly engineer a lineup that includes Lillard, Brunson, and two-time All-NBA forward Julius Randle. Randle's rollicking downhill physicality and frontcourt playmaking chops would complement Lillard well. The opposite is also true; Lillard's presence would better optimize Randle's unique offensive role, which often oscillates dangerously between essential connective tissue and ball-hog.

The Knicks have been diligently saving up their draft picks for a big swing. Joel Embiid has been tossed around as a favorite target, but there's no indication the 7-footer is leaving Philly any time soon. If the Knicks are impatient, don't be shocked if Dame ends up in the Big Apple.

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