It’s the offseason for New York Knicks fans which means it’s time to start speculating what moves the team could make in an attempt to improve the roster. After a magical 2020-21 season that resulted in a playoff berth, the Knicks followed it up by missing the postseason entirely, and basically, anything that could have gone wrong did.
The fanbase went from praising Julius Randle as the savior of the franchise to wanting him gone and traded to the highest bidder in less than a year. This past season was certainly not how anyone imagined it to go.
This upcoming season will be Tom Thibodeau and Leon Rose’s third year running the organization so it’s put up or shut up time for the both of them. I could see the front office approaching this offseason a bit more aggressively than they have, especially after how last season ended.
There has been a lot of talk about New York potentially adding some new, big names to the roster as evidenced by William Wesley, Allan Houston, and Randle attending Game 1 of the Mavericks-Jazz game on Saturday afternoon. Clearly, they had their eyes on Donovan Mitchell and/or Jalen Brunson.
There’s also been speculation ever since the January trade for Cam Reddish that the Knicks had their sights set on somehow acquiring Zion Williamson to pair him with his two former Duke buddies.
But a huge name who was popular amongst the fanbase last year and whose intrigue has since died down is none other than Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard. After playing in just 29 games this past season, Lillard was shut down for the year due to injury and seemingly fell off the face of the earth.
In his absence, Portland’s front office made some peculiar roster moves, trading away some of the ‘win now’ players they had on the team such as Robert Covington, Norman Powell, and Lillard’s best friend, CJ McCollum.
In return, the team received draft capital and young players that need more development, so it’s safe to say that the team could very well be moving on from their star soon.
Would Damian Lillard be open to a trade to the New York Knicks?
In a sit-down interview with CNBC’s Jabari Young, Lillard discussed some pressing topics such as his future plans with the organization.
"“I have no plans of not being a Portland Trail Blazer,” said Lillard. “I want to be here, and I think they want me here.”"
Lillard’s a true professional, so when it comes to his intentions and wants, you’ll never hear it from the horse’s mouth. In the past, he’s used several journalists and beat reporters as his mouthpiece to display his dissatisfaction.
When asked if he would accept a trade if the front office approached him with the idea, Lillard said:
"“If they came to me and they wanted to trade me – I’m not going to fight them on wanting to trade me. I don’t want to be anywhere I’m not wanted. But I don’t think that’s the case.”"
Well, Lillard, if what you’re saying is true and you wouldn’t mind sticking around while the organization rebuilds the team around you yet again, then great. But I doubt that’s the case whatsoever.
I believe the writing is on the wall and he could very well be traded this offseason. Lillard has two years and a player option left on his most recent contract extension in which he will earn an average salary of $44 million per year.
Although most fans don’t like the idea, it seems as if Randle is here to stay considering he was at Dallas’ playoff game last weekend and sat next to two of the team’s primary decision-makers.
So while I’m sure the front office would prefer to bring in a younger player in his prime, Lillard should also be considered.
If Randle’s going to be around for the foreseeable future, the front office may very well try to make one last-ditch effort to try and make things work with the former All-Star and pair him with a six-time All-Star in Lillard.
My fear would be that the front office would include RJ Barrett in that trade and if that were the case, I’d hang up the phone immediately. But if there was a way to get Lillard to NYC without having to part ways with Barrett, game on.
At 31-years-old, Lillard may be one of my favorite players in the league but he certainly wouldn’t be my first choice as far as talent that I’d like the Knicks to bring in. He wouldn’t be my last choice either.
Rose should at the very least have a conversation with Portland to see what the asking price would be and if all else fails, Lillard is no consolation prize by any means.