Boston Celtics fans with their eye wandering towards Portland, Oregon will love a new trade suggestion that would bring back Trail Blazers superstar guard Damian Lillard in a deal that would not require parting ways with All-Star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — or even rising center Robert Williams III.
If it sounds implausible, that’s because it is, at least for the moment. The proposed blockbuster put together hypothetically by the staff of Bleacher Report in a new article highlighting some potential mega-deals teams around the league could make has a few serious obstacles to taking place in the shorter-term future.
In time, however, it might not be an absurd proposition — perhaps even one Portland might consider.
The deal as discussed by B/R is built around veteran big man Al Horford‘s contract, which could appeal as much for his play and veteran leadership as the fact they could also make a decent dent in their cap commitments assuming he does not play in the NBA Finals before finishing his deal. If Boston missed the Finals — and it’s more likely than not they will — his 2022-23 salary is only guaranteed for $14.5 million, meaning a deal after the 2021-22 season but before the start of the next would pare $12.5 million off the books for the Blazers. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1431300510057906179?s=20
Now that alone is not enough to interest any franchise in a deal giving up a talent like Lillard, but the rest of the deal adds in Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard, two first-rounders and two pick swaps while taking on the contract of Derrick Jones Jr. The picks and swaps are not especially compelling given this move would make the Celtics true contenders if not outright title favorites, meaning the assortment of young talent would also need to establish more value than they have at present. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1431301291792293888?s=20
With Pritchard and Nesmith in particular looking great in Las Vegas Summer League, that’s not out of the question, but there’s already a small forest of “ifs” to consider here, meaning we are teetering on the edge of plausibility. Getting off Jones Jr.’s deal would save Portland $9.7 alone, and if Horford were waived $22.2 million however, so with all these things breaking right, we could see a path to viability, albeit a very slim one indeed. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1431345777729757186?s=20
Besides the other aspects of timing mentioned, the two-for-five swap would almost certainly have to happen in the offseason when roster limits are greater. Perhaps a different twist could be adding in Robert Covington for another first, using the Traded Player Exception created by Evan Fournier’s exit to take another $12.9 million off Portland’s books. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1431396391125925890?s=20
More a fun thought experiment than a realistic deal, if anything it points to the creativity that can materialize in the rare moments when such stars align. We don’t recommend you go buying a Lillard Celtics jersey however, seeing as the Blazers would also have to want such a package over others that very likely would be better. This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=57362,57353,57350,57346] [listicle id=57365]