The Philadelphia 76ers find themselves right in the middle of the offseason’s biggest story: Damian Lillard’s next NBA home. Though Lillard and his agent insist he only wants to play for the Miami Heat, the reality is Pat Riley’s team simply lacks the assets to get a deal done right now.
As this process drags out, the chances of another team swooping in and making Portland happy increase. The Sixers have obvious potential to be that team thanks to one very attractive trade chip.
With Joel Embiid openly hinting at a possible departure from Philly one day, Daryl Morey needs to act quickly to build a contender around the reigning MVP. Luckily for him, there’s one deal he could offer that should have enough interest from Portland to get this done.
Potential 76ers-Damian Lillard Trade Package Offer
In this scenario, the 76ers offer Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, their unprotected first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, and a pair of second-rounders (2024 from the Knicks, 2027 from themselves) to the Blazers for Lillard.
Though people love the thought of the Lillard deal becoming a blockbuster that also involves James Harden, the Los Angeles Clippers and another team like the Miami Heat, that trade would be incredibly complex to pull off. This, meanwhile, keeps things nice and clean.
For the 76ers, the incentive is obvious. Lillard is a perennial All-NBA talent and one of the top-three guards in the entire league. He’s also coming off of a careeryear that saw him post his highest PPG (32.2) ever while adding 7.3 rebounds and 4.8 rebounds per game. That alone should dispel any notions about his age. Yes, he just celebrated his 33rd birthday, but he’s aging like a fine wine. There’s no reason to expect a significant drop-off in play anytime soon.
For all the production that Lillard brings to the table, there’s also special intangibles that make him even more valuable on and off the court. He’s a well-documented leader who carried a beleaguered fanbase’s dreams on his shoulders, and he more often than not rose to the occasion. His clutch gene is something out of Hollywood as well, which would give the 76ers a player outside of Embiid whom they can 100% trust to create an open shot — for himself or for others — when the game is on the line.
The cost of adding an otherworldly player like Lillard is saying goodbye to one of the league’s best rising talents in Maxey. The guard’s only gotten better each season since entering the league and could be a Most Improved Player contender in 2023-24, but he’s the piece that makes or breaks this deal. It’s already been reported Portland isn’t high on Tyler Herro, but they do like Maxey — so much so, that ESPN’s Brian Windhorst predicted putting Maxey on the table could seal a trade.
With Maxey, the Blazers receive a guard who has All-Star potential as a featured option. GM Joe Cronin has stated he wants players who will help the team compete now, and signing Jerami Grant to a max deal reinforces that point. Though there’s overlap with Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons, it’s better to get Maxey now and work out a consolidation trade later, instead of settling for a player like Herro who has lesser value around the league.
Meanwhile, Tobias Harris’ $39 million expiring deal provides the perfect contract to make the salaries of this trade work. The veteran fits into the “win-now” stance Portland is taking, and the team can always extract some extra value out of him at the deadline if they’re out of the playoff picture.
The draft compensation offered by the 76ers isn’t nearly as mouth-watering as the Utah Jazz received for Rudy Gobert, but Lillard’s trade request being public hurts the Blazers’ bargaining leverage hurt a bit. Any non-Heat teaming acquiring the seven-time All-Star is also taking on some risk if he doesn’t change his tune, so that’s baked into the price here.
All in all, there’s enough here for both sides to be happy. Philadelphia suddenly forms one of the best one-two punches in the entire NBA and gives Lillard the shot at a championship he’s so desperately craved. Portland, meanwhile, hits the reset button with ammunition to help with a potential rebuild if they decide to tear everything down.
If the 76ers pull this deal off, expect their championship odds to climb. They currently rank No. 7 at +1700 odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
And DraftKings is the best place to make that bet. Their new-user promo will pay out instantly when you place your bet — it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. If you sign up through the exclusive Section 215 link and place your $5 bet you will instantly receive $150 in bonus credits!