The Sixers are hoping for a shot at Damian Lillard this summer. Here are three teams who can help make that dream a reality.
While the Sixers may be able to strike a deal directly with Portland, the Blazers may prefer to reset the clock a bit more firmly by adding a third team. The first team to look at is the Cleveland Cavaliers.
At the root of a Damian Lillard deal, the Sixers will likely have to trade Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, and around three first-round picks. If the Blazers prefer a top pick this year of Ben Simmons, then by sending Simmons to Cleveland for Kevin Love and the third pick in the 2021 draft, the Sixers could create a very enticing package for the Blazers.
The third and 28th picks in the 2021 NBA Draft plus unprotected firsts in 2023 and 2027 would be huge for a team looking to reset in Portland. The addition of Tyrese Maxey would also prove to be beyond valuable.
Cleveland is rumored to be interested in moving the third pick if it brings them a player who would help them reach the playoffs. Simmons would be one of the best possible scenarios for Cleveland. One of the top defenders in the league and a fantastic passer, Simmons could help fill in some of the areas where the Cavs struggle the most.
For the Blazers, Maxey has value, as do the three first-round picks from the Sixers; the real value here is the third overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The Blazers would have at least one of Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, or much more likely Evan Mobley to chose from.
If the Blazers preferred, they could also choose between Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga, and Scottie Barnes. That type of optionality for a top prospect could be preferred if the Blazers are iffy on Simmons.
The Memphis Grizzlies are a young team with a bright future, thanks mostly to star Ja Morant. While the Grizzlies are set at their lead guard, they still could use a second star to pair with Morant. It was thought that Jaren Jackson Jr. could be that star, and perhaps he can be, but the Grizzlies should still take a shot at a player in Simmons who has both a higher floor and ceiling.
With Simmons, the Grizzlies would have one of the most dangerous transition offenses in the NBA, and they would be adding one of the top defensive players in the league to help make their good defense great. Giving up JJJ, surprise rookie Desmond Bane, and a first is a no-brainer for that kind of potential.
The Blazers are almost surely headed for a youth movement if they move on from Damian Lillard. While they may want to speed that up with Simmons, they may be scared off by his recent regression. Perhaps adding a younger rising star with fewer red flags would be the direction the Blazers would prefer, especially with the addition of Maxey, Bane, and four first-round picks.
Golden State Warriors
The team that makes sense above all others is the Golden State Warriors. They’ve made it clear that they’re more than interested in adding Simmons to their roster, and it’s obvious why.
Simmons is essentially Draymond Green 2.0, and what better way for the Warriors to reenergize their title hopes than by a defensive monster who’s also one of the best in the league at passing to the open three-pointer. Adding a depth piece like George Hill wouldn’t hurt either for a team that ranked just 16th in bench scoring.
In a Simmons deal, the Blazers could take advantage of the Warriors’ quickly closing window and their lack of confidence in James Wiseman. The second pick in last year’s draft, Wiseman has been heavily criticized for an apparent lack of potential.
While in theory, Wiseman could have massive potential, many consider that to be unlikely, however, and that mass opinion has led many to think that the Warriors will part with the young big man. The Blazers, however, could take a chance on Wiseman’s potential, and things could even work out in their favor. There is a possibility that Wiseman becomes a high-end center; it’s just a matter of if he can ever compare to the Joel Embiids and Nikola Jokics of the world.
Wiggins is mostly salary filler, but he’s coming off arguably his best season and is only 26. If he can put together another year like that, he could have some value in the trade market or in the Blazers’ long-term plans if they decide to push for the playoffs sooner rather than later.
Of course, the true prize here is the bevy of draft picks the Blazers would get. In addition to Wiseman, Wiggins, and Maxey, the Blazers would be adding the 7th, 14th, and 28th picks in the 2021 draft. They would also be adding another unprotected pick from the Sixers in 2023. While the Blazers may prefer to skip this year’s pick and aim for the Sixers’ 2027 first-round pick, going from zero firsts to three in one deal may be too enticing to pass up.