The Trail Blazers are trying to improve around star guard Damian Lillard, all in an effort to keep Lillard.
It’s unclear what type of return the Blazers would seek in such a package, or if they are exploring a trade of the pick and Simons together, or separately. O’Connor listed Celtics guard/forward Jaylen Brown, Nets small forward Mikal Bridges or Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam as targets that would make sense.
Lillard recently suggested he believes the Blazers have the assets to build a considerably more competitive team.
“I want to have an opportunity to win in Portland. We got an opportunity, asset-wise, to build a team that can compete,” he said during an appearance on Showtime Sports. “If we can’t do that, then this is a separate conversation that we would have to have.”
Meanwhile, Simons is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 21.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 62 games. He has three seasons left on his four-year, $100 million extension.
But despite Simons’ impressive showing, the Blazers went nowhere, having missed the playoffs for two straight seasons. They had made the playoffs eight straight years before that under former coach Terry Stotts.
When Lillard was asked if it’s time for the Blazers to move him to a contender, he was diplomatic.
“I think that’s a loaded question,” he said, “because they could trade me to somewhere that we all say, you know, ‘This is a contender.’ But what is it going to cost for me to get there? What is it going to cost that team that we’re saying is a contender for me to get there? And how is it a guarantee that we’re gonna be playing in June when I get there? How do we know if everybody’s gonna be healthy? How do we know if it’s gonna work out?”
As for the No. 3 pick, the Blazers are expected to select either G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson or Alabama forward Brandon Miller, whoever is available. That is, assuming they keep the pick.