Seemingly everyone is waiting for the Damian Lillard domino to fall. Just how long it will take for the Portland Trail Blazers to topple it remains to be seen.
Lillard formally sent in his trade request on July 1. It’s been about two weeks since then, but the All-Star point guard remains with the team that drafted him. Given the unpredictability of the NBA offseason, Dame could be traded any day now. However, at least two NBA executives believe that the entire ordeal may have only just begun.
According to a report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on "NBA Today," two NBA general managers are anticipating Lillard’s trade stalemate to mirror that of Ben Simmons from two offseasons ago.
“I just talked to 2 GM's this morning who said we might be looking at another Ben Simmons situation here. Dame has 4 years left on his deal. POR can take their time. Let's see if he shows up for training camp. If they wanna wait till Feb. to trade him they can” –@ramonashelburne pic.twitter.com/WE0DA8Y3ou
— Dru (@dru_star) July 11, 2023
“I just talked to two GMs this morning who said, essentially, we might be looking at another Ben Simmons situation. [Lillard] has got four years on his contract. [The Blazers] don’t have to do anything. They can take their time. Let’s just see if he shows up for training camp. If they want to wait 'til February to trade him, they can,” Shelburne told Malika Andrews.
Simmons requested a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers in August 2021 following his infamous postseason meltdown against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Two months after the trade request, Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey told fans to “buckle in” as he was going to wait for a better trade return than those that were currently present. Blazers general manager Joe Cronin has already made a similar declaration.
The Sixers eventually landed James Harden before the trade deadline of that year, bordering on six months after Simmons asked out.
It’s hard to imagine the Lillard trade saga similarly dragging on until the February trade deadline. But it appears as though some informed people around the league wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen.