Not many league executives expect Damian Lillard to be on the move this offseason, but multiple front-office sources have said that the Sixers, Knicks, Heat, Kings and Rockets have been the most aggressive suitors as of late, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.
O’Connor adds that front-office executives believe that the Trail Blazers can expect a similar or even greater package than what the Rockets received in the James Harden trade to the Nets.
O’Connor also notes that Lillard currently has four years left on his contract worth $176 million, whereas Harden only had two guaranteed seasons left on his deal at the time he was dealt to Brooklyn, so opposing teams may be willing to give up more given the security left on Lillard’s contract.
The Sixers, in particular, want to enter the Lillard sweepstakes, but since there is pressure in the Sixers’ front office to maximize the prime of Joel Embiid, they may choose to act quickly rather than hope they can swing a trade for Dame.
O’Connor mentions that a swap of CJ McCollum for Ben Simmons may be something both teams could entertain, as Embiid could help create better shot opportunities for McCollum and provide balance as a perimeter shot creator for the Sixers’ offense.
O’Connor envisions Lillard and Simmons being deadly on the pick-and-roll if Simmons embraces setting hard screens and becoming a weapon on the roll, much like the Stephen Curry–Draymond Green dynamic. Simmons would also provide a significant boost on defense to a team in desperate need of help on that end of the floor.