NBA All-Star Damian Lillard’s allegiance to the Portland Trail Blazers is inspiring. It’s noble and commendable. At this point, it may be ill-advised.

These Blazers do not look poised for a deep playoff run in 2022-23. Granted, they’re probably an unfinished product. Most observers expect them to ship off the young players and draft picks they acquired last summer for an impact veteran or two.

It’s a nice idea in theory. In practice, it may be difficult to execute successfully. Are these Blazers really a mere Jerami Grant away from contention? Wouldn’t it make more sense to start over?

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans are on the upswing. They’ve got a promising young core that made a surprise trip to the playoffs this season.

They may be a Damian Lillard away from being in the running for the NBA title.

If the front office thinks so, here are two trades that send Dame to the Big Easy.


Portland Trail Blazers Receive: F/C Jaxson Hayes, C Jonas Valanciunas, G Devonte’ Graham, F/C Larry Nance Jr., 2022 First-Round Pick (LAL), 2023 First-Round Pick (LAL), 2024 First-Round Pick (NOP), 2026 First-Round Pick (MIL)

New Orleans Pelicans Receive: G Damian Lillard

That’s a long list of acquisitions on the Portland Trail Blazers’ side of the ledger. They shouldn’t expect anything less in return for their franchise player.

Granted, they’ve got minimal use for some of what they’re receiving here. Of all the incoming players, the only one that’s likely of interest to them is Jaxson Hayes. Otherwise, they’re receiving veterans they don’t need now that they’re a rebuilding team.