No NBA player wields the power of LeBron. Seriously, I wonder whether Pat Riley needed any scouting beyond LeBron’s tweet to get Napier. When the King asks implies, especially when he’s headed into free agency, you listen.
Damian Lillard doesn’t have the same pull, but he’s definitely emerging as one of the NBA’s most marketable stars. If he wants to coerce the Trail Blazers into making a move, they should listen.
I’m not sure whether the guard is doing that here or just being a 23-year-old with an opinion.
Either way, Lillard is making his preferences known.
Sunday night when CSNNW.com asked All-Star point guard Damian Lillard if there are any free agents of his preference, first and foremost, he went with his dynamic backup.
“Yeah…Mo Williams,” Lillard responded in a text.”
When pressed for other players he’d like the team to bring in or at least look at, Lillard sent a response text that included four names.
“Channing Frye, Vince Carter, Spencer Hawes, Trevor Ariza,” read Lillard’s text in that order.
Carter is “open” to the idea of coming to Portland and helping boost the bench up, we’re told by someone close to the veteran guard.
The Trail Blazers will have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,305,000) and bi-annual exception ($2,077,000) to spend on free agents. Everyone Lillard mentioned is likely to receive offers in the MLE range.
They’re also all quality shooters who would accentuate Portland’s offensive firepower. Either Lillard is taking responsibility for elevating the Trail Blazers’ defense himself, or he’s still not thinking enough about that end.
Williams gave Portland’s bench some life last season following a year of historic ineptness. It’d make sense to bring him back, but Portland would be wise to pay the declining 31-year-old based on what he’ll do during his next contract, not what he did last year.
If the Trail Blazers pay Williams more than $3,325,608 next season, they’ll have to use the mid-level exception to re-sign him. Otherwise, they can use the non-bird exception and save the MLE for someone else. As Lillard points out, there are plenty of quality options available.