Laying out the three-team trade
The difficulty for Chicago in getting in the mix for Damian Lillard is that they are rather short on high-end prospects or draft picks. There is not a viable path forward to add Lillard to a team that retains both Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. One of them has to be moved.
The skillset overlap between Lillard and LaVine, combined with his greater value leaguewide and more lucrative contract, make him the better choice to include in a deal. The Blazers don’t have a need of LaVine, however, not when they are both stocked with scoring guards and trying to rebuild. That necessitates a third team to not just take on Zach LaVine, but value him highly enough to trade real assets for him.
Enter the New York Knickerbockers:
The New York Knicks add an All-Star backcourt player to pair with Jalen Brunson, helping to solve some of their shooting woes and raising the offensive ceiling of the team. RJ Barrett is painful to lose, but Josh Hart and Quentin Grimes can capably fill minutes at the 3. Evan Fournier is moved along as little more than matching salary, while Jericho Sims and two first-round picks help to sweeten the Bulls’ offer to Portland.
The Blazers in turn add prospects at all three frontcourt positions, taking a flier on Patrick Williams putting things together in a different offensive ecosystem. Jericho Sims is a bouncy center who will love to get up for Scoot Henderson lobs, while Barrett can be a long-term starter at the 3. Five first-round picks, including getting their own back from Chicago, is a worthy haul.
If both the Knicks and the Blazers are game, should the Bulls say yes?