NY Knicks: Damian Lillard has ties to team’s coaching staff

Damian Lillard, NY Knicks (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard, NY Knicks (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The NY Knicks, as always, have been linked to a plethora of stars around the league as a potential landing spot in free agency or from a blockbuster trade. While many unfounded rumors pop up from thin air, others build momentum from legitimate reports and clues that can arise at any moment.

Damian Lillard’s name has begun to swirl in trade rumors after a recent article from Yahoo’s Sports’ Chris Haynes, who reported that Lillard could push himself out of Portland due to frustrations with the team’s stagnancy and failure to include him in the hiring of their new head coach.

NY Knicks: Team will be monitoring Damian Lillard’s situation

Chris Haynes is close with Lillard, so although we don’t have a ton of details about Lillard and his unhappiness with Portland’s front office, it very much seems like the groundwork for a soon-to-be unraveling situation.

Lillard has been touted for his outspoken loyalty to The Trailblazers organization, but Portland now feels like they are at an impasse. They don’t have cap flexibility, they were actually healthy in this year’s playoffs, in a year where the preseason favorites were ousted and the championship was as wide open as ever, and yet, they still got bounced in the first round.

It has been years of: “Damian Lillard and the Blazers, good team, not great.”

Now, in the midst of more drastic “re-tooling”, the team has gone on to hire Chauncey Billups as their next head coach, which has been a central factor of Lillard’s reported dissatisfaction with Portland.

So as the Trail Blazers look to potentially tear it all down, the list of suitors will be lined up around the block for Lillard. Only a few teams have the resources to make a trade happen, and the NY Knicks are one of them.

Aside from the resources the team has, New York has something not many other teams do – a very close friend of Lillard’s on their coaching staff – assistant coach Johnnie Bryant.

While Damian Lillard is still under the team’s control and they can hypothetically trade him wherever they want… franchise players can hold a lot of sway. Melo forcing his way to New York. James Harden essentially not showing up to work for Houston and making his way to Brooklyn.

Lillard’s relationship with Johnnie Bryant goes back to his early years of hooping in Oakland.

The two have known each other since Lillard was in middle school. At the time, Bryant was balling for the University of Utah, and the two would train together in the offseason.

Bryant has commented on their big brother-little brother bond in the past, saying:

"“I don’t look at him as Damian Lillard. I look at him as Damian, my little brother I’ve been knowing for so long and when we talk it’s not about basketball,”"

Relationships are everything in this league.

There have been so many words written about Leon Rose and CAA players, Kenny Payne and Kentucky players, Thibodeau and “Thibs guys”, and while these links can get tiring, they’re worth noting because they do play a part in the human side of the league. They factor into plenty of player-driven decisions.

The NY Knicks have a strong tie to Damian Lillard with Johnnie Bryant and it could play a big role in a potential push to acquire the star point guard.

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