NBA Agent Explains How Damian Lillard Can Force His Way Out of Portland Trail Blazers Like James Harden

Published 07/01/2021, 7:30 AM EDT
May 27, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) dunks the ball during the second half of game three in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the Denver Nuggets at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports


Portland suffered a round one loss in the playoffs at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. The Damian Lillard-led team look Nuggets to six games, but they were no match for the Nuggets in the end. Jokic and Lillard went at it all series, ending with Jokic and Co. going through.

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Lillard gave it his all, averaging 34.3 points a game, to go with 10 assists and shot 44% from beyond the arc. In addition, he averaged 41.3 minutes per game, which means he almost played the entire game. His most notable game was his 55-point record-breaking effort. However, he ended up on the losing side.

DENVER, CO – MAY 12: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers shows signs of frustration early against the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter on Sunday, May 12, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game seven of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Following this, Lillard put a post on Instagram which may have hinted at him leaving Portland this off-season. But how realistic is this scenario?

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Damian Lillard out of Portland?

Following Terry Scott’s departure from Portland, Dame made it clear that he wants Jason Kidd as the next coach. It has been reported that Lillard hasn’t been seeing eye-to-eye lately with the Trail Blazers’ front office. A tweet by Chris Haynes suggested that Lillard could request a trade because of his concerns over whether Portland is a championship contender team.

The 30-year-old wants to win, and he doesn’t see Portland competing for a championship anytime soon. Lillard is under contract until the 2023-24 season, with a $48.8 million player option for the 2024-25 season. This means that Portland has three guaranteed seasons with the veteran guard. So Portland doesn’t have to accept his trade request or trade him to a contender.

However, an NBA agent believes that Damian Lillard could pull a Harden, and force his way out of Portland. He said, “Portland has the leverage contractually, for sure, but Dame could pull a [James] Harden and make it messy to gain leverage.”

The agent does believe the trade will be mutual, but Portland will be the ones to direct it. Harden not only managed to get himself traded but also got himself traded to his preferred organization. This was also the case with Anthony Davis when he requested a trade mid-season and landed with the Lakers. However, Harden and Davis had two years remaining on the contract, while Lillard has three.

DENVER, CO – MAY 12: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers inbounds against the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter on Sunday, May 12, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game seven of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Portland may wait until next year to trade him or if they do trade him, it may not be to a contending team. However, Dame has been loyal to the organization for nine years and given it his all. So, if he does request a trade, Portland may send him to a team of his choice.

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Dame with Lakers?

The Los Angeles lost to the Phoenix Suns as both LeBron James and Anthony Davis were injured. The Lakers have also been in talks for being the possible destination for Dame. This brings the question of whether Damian Lillard with the Lakers could work. And he would, as the Lakers desperately need a shooter.

LeBron and AD both score the majority of their points on the inside and are not the best 3 point shooters. The inclusion of Damian Lillard could add a perimeter threat. With LeBron’s passing ability and Lillard’s range, they could become one of the most dangerous teams in the league.

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Feb 26, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) passes the ball under pressure from Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) and center Montrezl Harrell (15) in the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With Brooklyn coming in healthy next season, Lillard, AD, and LeBron will be the perfect matchup for them. The Lakers will have to trade away Horton Tucker in a sign and trade, along with Kyle Kuzma, KCP, and maybe Montrezl Harrell with a good amount of picks to get Dame.

If Dame does request a trade and lands up in Los Angeles, watching this big 3 on the court would be thrilling. Do you think Lillard will request a trade?

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Anuj Talwalkar

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