NBA Rumors: Thunder could sneak into Damian Lillard trade sweepstakes
The Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers have made progress over the last 72 hours on the Damian Lillard trade front. The veteran point guard, who has four years and over $200 million left on his contract, has stipulated that he only wants to play for the Heat. That said, a recent NBA investigation prevents Lillard from publicly claiming his intention to play for one team and one team only.
While the general expectation is that Lillard will eventually end up in Miami, nothing is ever guaranteed in the NBA. The Blazers could keep Lillard into the regular season or even trade him to a team not on his wishlist.
NBA insider Chris Mannix went on 'The Crossover' podcast to discuss a potential surprise destination for the 33-year-old.
"If [Lillard] is still on the Blazers' roster in January," posits Mannix, "and if OKC is overachieving... Don’t be surprised if they go out and make a run at Lillard."
This actually makes perfect sense. The Oklahoma City Thunder are blessed with depth at every position, a top-10 player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and a mountain of quality trade assets. OKC will be ready to contend sooner than the average NBA fan probably expects and when that time does come, Sam Presti's treasure chest of future picks will prove useful.
On paper, there isn't a better spot for Lillard. A lot of length and defensive talent to cover for his primary weakness, and a young core to help keep the team competitive for years to come as he inevitably transitions into more of a secondary star role.
OKC isn't as sexy as Miami, but the Thunder would be a great team and give Lillard a real shot at bringing the Larry O'Brien home. It's a shame he'd do everything in his power to prevent such an outcome.