Things aren’t going very well for the Portland Trail Blazers and they’re at a bigger crossroads than ever before.
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that star point guard Damian Lillard is not happy with the trajectory of his team and wants more – a lot more – from it.
After months of rumor and speculation of Lillard’s displeasure, it’s apparent that if this season doesn’t end in a spectacular way, Lillard is going to do whatever he can to leave Portland.
Therefore, the team has a few options and needs to make a decision as soon as possible for the sake of their future.
Trade For Simmons?
Lillard usually doesn’t get sucked into trade gossip but he recently stirred the pot when reports came out about who he would like to play with: troubled Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.
“Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Lillard would like to play with Philadelphia 76ers three-time All-Star Ben Simmons.”
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 6, 2021
Many saw this leak of information as Lillard’s way of pressuring the Blazers to make the moves needed to acquire Simmons.
The team could follow this lead and decide to do whatever they have to to get Simmons and make Lillard happy for at least another season or two.
Simmons on the Blazers would greatly assist with their lacking defense and would create a fantastic dynamic on the floor.
But it would require that the front office part with multiple stars, such as CJ McCollum.
Indeed, the Trail Blazers would essentially become just Lillard and Simmons.
Is that worth it for Portland?
Stick It Out With Dame
Another option the team has is to call Lillard’s bluff, hope that the season goes well without any major expensive trades, and see what happens.
This is basically what they are doing right now and what they did in the offseason too.
If the team gets better and makes it deep into the playoffs on its own talent, they might be able to convince Lillard to stay.
However, there is just as big a chance that he cuts ties and finally abandons them too.
This is a risky route for the Blazers to take and it’s what has gotten them to this point right now.
They can trade for Simmons or just sit back, hope for the best, and pray that Lillard puts loyalty over his desire to win.
The third option the Blazers can take is to assume that Lillard is definitely going to leave and turn away from this season and start planning ahead now.
Make no mistake: if Lillard does depart then the team is in a very bad position.
They would immediately become a rebuilding team that would have to cobble together draft picks and minor trades in hopes of slowly becoming a threat in the West again.
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) December 8, 2021
If Portland is unwilling to make the monster Simmons trade now, they should assume that this third option is a very viable and realistic one.
The rebuilding process is slow and sometimes painful but it might be the smartest approach for the team.
Right now, there is about a 50/50 chance that Lillard stays in Portland after this season so the team needs to begin contemplating every option they have – and make a choice.NEXT: How The Trail Blazers Have Failed Damian Lillard