Detroit Pistons rumor: Damian Lillard for the No. 1 pick makes sense

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots a jump shot against Detroit Pistons guard Saben Lee (38). Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots a jump shot against Detroit Pistons guard Saben Lee (38). Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

The Portland Trail Blazers are going to lose their franchise player, Damian Lillard. If the Detroit Pistons get the No. 1 (or even No. 2) pick in the NBA Draft, wouldn’t it make sense for Portland to offer ‘Dame’ up for that high a draft choice?

Then it might be ‘Dame Time’ in Detroit.

With the Trail Blazers going down in the first round of the NBA playoffs for the fourth time in five years, there is massive speculation that its superstar player, Damian Lillard, might be frustrated enough to seek a trade.

Portland is the smallest of the small-market teams. Free agents are not flocking to go there. Like most small market teams, they build their core group through the draft and trades.

And to retain those players, the Trail Blazers have to pay them well, because the players know they have the upper hand. If they leave, most likely, Portland has no one to replace them with.

Related Story. Detroit Pistons: 3 takeaways from loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. light

If Portland does end up having to move Lillard, it needs a big return. They can not just go out and sign a big-name free agent to replace him.

They also do not have a lot of money to spend in free agency. Because the Trail Blazers need to pay well, and prefer long-term deals to lock up key players, they do not have much salary cap space this summer or next year.

According to Spotrac, Portland is currently $14 million over the cap. I you took out Lillard’s salary (estimated $39 million next season), they do have some wiggle room. But of course that means getting rid of Lillard, which they do not particularly want to do.

Who would replace him? Maybe Cade Cunningham or Evan Mobley?

If they decide have to move Lillard, the smartest decision Portland could make would be to go for a high draft pick in this year’s draft. The player would be cost-contained or four years, marketable as The Next Big Thing, and the club looks good, as it can promote it is ‘building for the future’ as Lillard just turned 30-years-old.

Could Damian Lillard end up with the Detroit Pistons? Here is how.

  • The Pistons hold either the No 1 or 2 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft
  • Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is prepared to dump a slow rebuild and accelerate the process.

We will find out on June 22 where the Pistons will draft, but, as of now, they have just as much a chance as any NBA team of getting a top pick.

And there is no law saying if a team is ‘retooling’ it has to go through many painful year of losing. In 2007 the Boston Celtics went 24-58 and the next year won the NBA championship thanks to luring some big names (Garnett, Ray Allen).

And even though Lillard has a big salary, Detroit can actually match it without giving up Jerami Grant . Fringe players who have large, mostly unguaranteed contracts and Mason Plumlee will do it ( according to the ESPN Trade Machine).

So the trade can be made if management from both teams want it to happen. Lillard will be starting a new four-year contract extension in the fall, so he is locked up for quite a while.

With Plumlee gone, Isaiah Stewart moves into the starting center position, so the loss does not hurt too much.

Playing in the not-as-deep Eastern Conference, Detroit could certainly zoom up in the standings. The New York Knicks were the No. 4 seed, with Derrick Rose their second-best player, in the playoffs. With Lillard, the Pistons could certainly make themselves as competitive as the Knicks.

Detroit could have a starting lineup of Killian Hayes and Lillard in the backcourt, with Grant, Stewart and Saddiq Bey in the frontcourt. It would be a young, and up and coming lineup, with lots of room for improvement.

Next. NBA Draft: Jonathan Kuminga flying under the radar for Detroit Pistons. dark

Remember all those close games Detroit lost last season? Well, with ‘Dame Time‘, those close losses would turn into victories.

Yes, either Cade Cunningham or Evan Mobley would be an exciting addition to the Detroit Pistons. But getting Damian Lillard would be thrilling.