In a relatively surprising turn of events, Damian Lillard may want out of Portland after their hiring of Chauncey Billups as their new head coach. There’s a lot of mixed reporting on the situation in Portland, some saying Lillard had nothing to do with the hire, others saying Lillard himself chose Billups as the new coach. Either way, there was a lot of backlash on the hire due to Billups’ past. If Damian Lillard requests a trade, which is looking more and more likely by the hour, would the Sixers realistically have enough to give up to acquire the six time all-star?
Start with Simmons
Ben Simmons was nearly traded for James Harden back in January. He likely would have been if Tilman Fertitta was willing to do business with Daryl Morey. Seeing that trade almost go through goes to show how badly Morey wants to pair another legit superstar with Joel Embiid. The Sixers also learned firsthand in this years playoffs that they can’t afford to wait around for players to develop. Joel Embiid is an MVP caliber player that is ready to win now. The talent surrounding him needs to be championship level right now. Ben Simmons could one day be that, but in his current form, there’s a lot of work to be done to get there. If an opportunity to upgrade in a real way presents itself, Ben Simmons will certainly be headed out of Philadelphia. Because of his young age and massive contract, he will undoubtedly be the central part of any package for a trade to acquire any superstar that wants out of their current situation.
Promising Young Talent
Alongside Ben Simmons, who is an already established player with lots of room for improvement, this trade would require players who have shown potential and are still very young. For the Sixers, they have Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, and Shake Milton. Though it would be hard to part with all three, the Blazers would almost certainly ask for at least Thybulle and Maxey. Thybulle is already and All-Defense player in this league. Tyrese Maxey showed that he’s capable of getting to the rim with ease and igniting an offense off the bench. For a player like Lillard, you give up whatever it takes. The depth of the team might be in question if a trade like this was to go down, but Morey has done incredibly well finding solid role players in creative ways throughout his career. While Thybulle and Maxey could both pan out to be really good players for a long time, Joel Embiid needs to win now, and the young talent the Sixers have might be best utilized to bring in a more established partner for the big man.
Along with Simmons and young players with potential, the Blazers would need draft picks to elevate the trade package. The Sixers have their own first round picks in 6 of the next 7 years. We’ve seen other huge trades in recent years require several of a team’s first round picks. This trade would be no different, and likely involve at least three first round picks going to the Blazers. The Sixers should have no problem including a load of picks in this hypothetical trade. At this current point, the 76ers are better off utilizing their draft picks to acquire a sure thing alongside Embiid. Hoarding draft picks will do them no good in trying to build a real contender, and Daryl Morey certainly knows that.
While Lillard has not specifically asked out of Portland yet, this is certainly a situation to keep your eyes on. If Lillard does become available at any point this offseason, the Sixers will be positioned very favorably to acquire the superstar point guard. With their mix of Ben Simmons, young talent with potential, and an arsenal of first round draft picks, anything other than Joel Embiid should be on the table in this trade. The Sixers should have just enough to entice Portland if Damian Lillard asks out. A disappointing playoff run this season could lead to major changes being made and Damian Lillard would certainly reignite this fanbase.
Photo: Steve Dykes/AP
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