Report: NBA teams eying Zion Williamson, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell as next stars to push for trade

Donovan Mitchell and Zion Williamson in Utah Jazz v New Orleans Pelicans
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With Ben Simmons and James Harden traded for each other, the NBA’s two big disgruntled-star dramas have settled (seemingly).

Who’s next?

Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated:

Around the league, team executives are already bracing (and/or plotting) for the next disenchanted star to ask out, with speculation focused on Zion Williamson in New Orleans, Damian Lillard in Portland and Donovan Mitchell in Utah.

Notably absent from this list: Wizards star Bradley Beal. Perhaps, that’s just an oversight. Or maybe teams now see his future in Washington. The Wizards got him a potential co-star in Kristaps Porzingis.

Heck, LeBron James should also draw attention, given how upset he appears with the Lakers.

But Williamson, Lillard and Mitchell certainly make sense as targets. Even if their availabilities are currently low, their abilities to transform franchises are high. And there are paths to their availabilities increasing.

Williamson reportedly has family members wanting him to leave the Pelicans. Away from the team while injured, he seems more distant from the franchise than ever.

Lillard keeps saying he’s not requesting a trade. I believe him. But the Trail Blazers are overhauling around him. That upheaval could disrupt the strong foundation Lillard has with Portland.

Mitchell and Jazz co-star Rudy Gobert don’t get along swimmingly. That’s easier to overcome while winning, but they haven’t gotten past the second round.

Teams plot for years to land a star. They sometimes push lines to pry a star loose. In a sport where a single player can make such a huge difference, the upside of landing a star justifies extreme attempts to acquire one.

Like it or not, it’s on the Pelicans, Trail Blazers and Jazz – and Williamson, Lillard and Mitchell – to handle this interest and the noise that accompanies it.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said super-max drama gave him a headache all summer. Lillard said players leave money on the table because of media pressure. Certainly knowing he could make a soft landing with the 76ers, Harden just sulked his way off the Nets.

These potential dramas in New Orleans, Portland and Utah could go any direction.

As many teams are eagerly waiting to see.