PORTLAND, Ore. — The fate of the Portland Trail Blazers hangs in the balance in the lead-up to the June 20 NBA Draft as the organization contemplates using the No. 3 overall pick to draft its potential future cornerstone or ship off the pick to find a superstar running mate for the iconic Damian Lillard.
Locked On Blazers host Mike Richman made the case for Portland to trade the pick in a Friday edition of the podcast.
“The reason you trade No. 3 is that Damian Lillard’s interest in it is a huge part of it,” Richman said. “And the reason you trade No. 3 is because you want to keep Dame on the roster.”
Lillard is the franchise’s all-time leader in points and three-pointers made, has played in the city for a decade and led the team to eight straight playoff berths in his first eight seasons.
“You trade No. 3, you trade the pick, to maximize the window that Dame has left open,” Richman said.
Lillard was an All-NBA selection this season after scoring a career-high 32.2 points per game on a .645 true shooting percentage. At age 32, he is clearly still among the best players in the league and the best scorers at his position.
Trading the pick could net a return such as Toronto wing OG Anunoby, Brooklyn wing Mikal Bridges, or perhaps someone even better if Portland includes more of its prime assets in a trade offer.
“This is the best trade piece the Blazers have had in many, many moons,” Richman said. “If they’re going to make a big swing, the time is June of 2023.”