There’s little doubt the Warriors have discussed this amongst their front office. There’s little doubt 28 other front offices have as well.
As of this writing, Damian Lillard is not available in a trade. While rumors and reports of his frustration are everywhere around the league, Lillard himself has denied asking for anything. More than that, the Trail Blazers want to try and build a contender around him, not ship him out of town.
None of that matters to other teams, who see the smoke coming out of Portland and think they need to get their ducks in a row in case the day comes that Lillard is available. That’s what the Warriors have done, reports Anthony Slater at The Athletic.
Would the Warriors get involved? Yes. They’d make a call and have already internally discussed the idea, as I’m sure most contenders have, considering the rising smoke out of Portland.
Their theoretical offer would be competitive. If the Blazers decided to trade Lillard, a complete rebuild seems like the wisest path and there aren’t many better rebuilding trade packages dangling out there right now than James Wiseman, the seventh and 14th pick in the upcoming draft, plus more future firsts, attached to Andrew Wiggins as salary match filler.
That theoretical offer would likely not be enough. Other teams hunting a star — Miami, Dallas, New York — not to mention every contender will throw their hat in the ring. The price for Lillard will be steep.
If it ever comes to that — and that remains a big “if” — Lillard would have some leverage as well. Which leads to a question Slater asks: Does Lillard want to be a Warrior? There’s an obvious high-powered offensive appeal of Lillard with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but does Lillard want to go to another player’s team (this will always be Curry’s culture) to be the second or third option? In addition, it’s a backcourt that would struggle defensively, especially in the playoffs. Finally, Lillard is an Oakland native, does he want to play for the team that left that city to go across the bay to San Francisco?
Still, the Warriors will be ready to make their pitch. Realize this isn’t just happening with Lillard, it has been going on for a couple of years with Bradley Beal in Washington, it’s started with Zion Williamson in New Orleans and Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota, even though none of those stars is on the trade block. When rumors of a star player being available reach the ears of a front office, they plan. Just in case the day comes.