The Knicks should be at the front of the line if the Trail Blazers decide to trade Damian Lillard, contends Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. Lillard is one of the most popular Portland players ever and has been a fixture in the city since he was drafted in 2012. But he will turn 31 in July and could bring a huge collection of assets in return if the Blazers opt to rebuild.
Lillard is owed more than $127 million over the next three seasons and has a $48.8 million player option for 2024-25. He would provide an instant solution to New York’s long-running point guard problem and would bring some star power to the franchise. He’s still as explosive as ever as a scorer, averaging 28.8 points per game this season and shooting 39.1% from three-point range.
The Knicks have the assets to make a deal work, including five first-round picks over the next three years, Vaccaro adds. They also have young talent to offer, such as rookies Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, second-year guard RJ Barrett and third-year center Mitchell Robinson.
There’s more from New York:
- If Lillard isn’t available, the Knicks will pursue other options to upgrade their backcourt this summer, and Ian Begley of SNY.TV hears that Derrick Rose‘s performance after being acquired from the Pistons will affect their strategy. If they can re-sign Rose, the Knicks will be less likely to spend big on another point guard and may turn to restricted free agents such as Devonte’ Graham, Lonzo Ball or Kendrick Nunn. New York talked to the Pelicans about a possible Ball trade before the March deadline, but there’s not a consensus on him among the front office, according to Begley.
- With his team's playoff run over, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau met with newly signed guard Luca Vildoza on Thursday and watched him in a workout, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Former Knicks guard and current Timberwolves assistant coach Pablo Prigioni believes his fellow Argentinian has a bright NBA future. “(Vildoza is) really, really good,’’ Prigioni said. “I really like him. Very talented, got a great shot and knows how to pass. I’m really excited to see Luca next season with the Knicks. Tom’s going to like him.’’
- Thibodeau held a long meeting with his players on Thursday and decided to delay the traditional player evaluation conferences for about two weeks, Berman adds in a separate story. A source said Berman wants his players to unwind from the stress that COVID-19 brought to the season.