The New York Knicks should keep a close eye on Damian Lillard.
There’s an argument to be made that the New York Knicks have been the biggest story in Eastern Conference this season, even bigger than what the Brooklyn Nets have done in the regular season. That said, for a storied franchise such as the Knicks, merely making the playoffs this season, which they are projected to do, is just the first step in the right direction.
The rise of both Julius Randle and RJ Barrett has been a welcomed sight this season, but if the Knicks are going to be viewed as championship contenders in the Eastern Conference in the years to come, they’re going to need a superstar to help take this team to the next level.
While there’s currently no one expected to be available in the upcoming free agency period (the expectation is that Kawhi Leonard is going to re-sign with the LA Clippers, subscription required), the Knicks might have to look to the trade market to significantly upgrade the roster heading into the offseason.
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The question is, who will be the next disgruntled star that will demand out?
Who could the New York Knicks target via the trade market this offseason?
That’s difficult to answer. Of the usual candidates, Bradley Beal has shown no willingness to leave Washington, the Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t going to trade Karl-Anthony Towns anytime soon, and Zach LaVine will likely see where a full year with Nikola Vucevic will take them in Chicago.
There is one situation, however, that should demand attention. The Portland Trail Blazers. An argument could be made that the Blazers are the only team in the Western Conference playoffs that might have already peaked with their current core. They haven’t gotten better in the two seasons since making it to the Western Conference Finals and could be in for another first-round playoff exit.
You can’t help but wonder if this recent article by Chris Haynes is setting the table for a Lillard trade demand, but you really shouldn’t be surprised if one arises. And we also shouldn’t be surprised if a team such as the Knicks is willing to go all-in on a potential trade for Lillard.
And, according to a recent report, if Lillard does hit the trade market, the Knicks would be willing to offer the treasure chest for Lillard. Question is, would a big three of Lillard, Randle, and Barrett be enough to compete in the East?
Assuming Barrett and Randle continue to improve as individual players, it’s hard to see why not. Lillard is one of the most clutch players in the league and is a stick of dynamite on the offensive end. Lillard is averaging 28 points, eight assists, and four rebounds per game 44 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent shooting from 3-point range.
He’d be an answer to the team’s long-lasting need at the point guard position and would give this team a superstar to ignite even more enthusiasm in the city.