Does a Damian Lillard trade make most sense for Knicks?

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Damian Lillard Knicks
Damian Lillard Knicks

Damian Lillard didn’t demand a trade on Friday. But he essentially put the Trail Blazers on notice: improve the roster, or I’m out of here.

Lillard denied a report that stated he planned to ask for a trade from Portland in the coming days. The All-Star point guard made it clear, though, that he wants to see the Blazers add enough talent to contend for a title -- soon.

"The best way to put it is to be more urgent about what our next step is and how we move forward," Lillard said of what he hopes to see from the organization. "We're not a bad team; we're a winning team. We've got a great environment, we've got a great city, we've got great fans, there's a lot of positives.

"I just think we've reached that point where it's like, OK, it's not enough. Do we actually want to win it all? Is that what we're shooting for? We've got to do things to show that. We've got to put action behind that. That desire to win at that level -- that's been my only thing this entire time."

The comments from Lillard are the latest indication that he’s considering a future outside of Portland.

The Knicks -- and every other NBA team with a void at point guard -- have been monitoring Lillard’s situation in Portland. And you can be sure that the Knicks and those other teams will continue to keep an eye on the dynamic.

Lillard said that he hadn’t made any firm decisions about his future in Portland. And he made it like his future with the Blazers depended on how top executive Neil Olshey shapes the roster this offseason.

Portland is projected to have cap space and doesn’t have a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. So Olshey will be limited in how he can add talent to the roster.

Lillard said that he thinks new head coach Chauncey Billups can have a positive effect on the roster. But he stated clearly that he doesn’t think the current group is good enough to contend for a title.

“I think if you look at our team as it is, I don't see how you say 'this is a championship team, we just need a new coach,'" Lillard said.

If Lillard does seek a trade, you can be sure that the Lakers, Warriors and Knicks will be among the teams interested.

New York can offer Portland salary relief in a Lillard trade. But if the Knicks sent out players like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson or Imannuel Quickley to Portland in a Lillard trade, they wouldn’t have much remaining talent to complement Lillard.

Just my opinion: it only makes sense for New York to trade for Lillard if the trade leads directly to the acquisition of another star or leaves enough talent on the roster to compete for an NBA title.

Last month, we took a look at a few different trade scenarios involving the Knicks and Lillard and spelled out how New York could have cap space to spend even after trading for him.